The book is an interdisciplinary exploration of the complexities of ‘popular’ culture as a category of public policy. It approaches the notions of ‘cultural policy’ and ‘popular culture’ flexibly, examining what each comes to mean, explicitly or implicitly, in relation to the other. This generates a rich variety of approaches, but also a number of identifiable commonalities.

We start from the proposition that 'popular culture' is largely absent as an explicit category of arts policy and debate today. The ‘arts’ are still, in practice, construed in terms of elite culture (despite claims to the contrary), while artefacts such as popular music, television, fashion, and so on are assumed to figure among the cultural or creative ‘industries’, giving the popular a set of narrowly economic, professional and commodity connotations. And yet, the popular is, in a range of ways, powerfully present as an implicit dimension of public policy and as a catalyst of cultural practices and attitudes. This apparent paradox underpins the proposal.

The book is a collaboration between two UK-based institutions: the University of Leeds’s Popular Cultures Research Network and the well established Centre for Cultural Policy Studies at the University of Warwick.

This book was originally published as a special issue of International Journal of Cultural Policy.