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Dimensions:
210 × 148 mm
208 pages
Format:
Paperback with flaps
ISBN:
9781861891044
Illustrations:
6 illustrations
Published:
01 Sep 2001
Series:
FOCI
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Celebrity Chris Rojek

In contemporary society, the cult of celebrity is inescapable. Anyone can be turned into a celebrity, and anything can be made into a celebrity event. Celebrity has become a part of everyday life, a common reference point. But how have people like Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Bill Clinton or Princess Diana impressed themselves so powerfully on the public mind? Do they have unique qualities, or have their images been constructed by the media? And what of the dark side of celebrity – why is the hunger to be in the public eye so great that people are prepared to go to any lengths to achieve it, as numerous mass murderers and serial killers have done.

Chris Rojek brings together celebrated figures from the arts, sports, politics and other public spheres, from O.J. Simpson and Marilyn Monroe to Hitler and David Bowie, and touches on many movements and fads, including punk, rock-and-roll and fashion. Rojek analyzes the difference between ascribed celebrity, which derives from bloodline, and achieved celebrity, which follows on from personal achievement – the difference between Princess Margaret and, say, Woody Allen. He also shows how there is no parallel in history to today’s ubiquitous ‘living’ form of celebrity, powered by newspapers, PR departments, magazines and electronic mass media.

‘According to a brief but brilliant new book by the British sociologist Chris Rojek, democracy (or capitalism) simply cannot operate properly without celebrity . . . Rojek’s most original insight is that people have been wanting this ever since the 18th century. He brilliantly rereads Samuel Smiles’s Self-Help as a manual on the virtues of the celebrity.’ – The Independent

‘Rojek ranges widely across celebrity culture . . . His feel for the topic means that these necessarily bite-sized snippets of the famously famous reveal a shewdly evaluative aesthetic at work, and his critical sense is infallibly strong. The result is a delightful social history of fame – a mix of cultural studies and social theory – that works very well.’ – The Australian

‘This book will be invaluable to students and professionals working in the sociology of culture and media and cultural studies. The work is also notable for the author’s elegant prose and critical insights into popular culture.’ – Sociology

‘illuminating . . .’ – New Statesman

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Chris Rojek is Professor of Sociology and Culture at Brunel University. He is the author of Brit-Myth: Who Do the British Think They Are? (Reaktion, 2007).