Feminism, Young Women, and Cultural Studies

Birmingham Essays from 1975 Onwards

Angela McRobbie


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Feminism, Young Women, and Cultural Studies collects together essays dating back to the mid-1970s to provide both a feminist analysis of young women and popular culture (including magazines, dance, and fashion) as well as a forceful critique of male domination in youth culture and the ways in which an ideology of adolescent femininity functioned so as to subdue and restrain young women in passive and subordinate gender unequal positions. The collection also shines a light on the kinds of methodologies being developed at Birmingham University CCCS as cultural studies was emerging as a distinct field of study. These essays when first published found their way onto the university undergraduate curriculum across the world and were translated into various languages. The author in this new edition provides a lively up-to-date introductory essay to each chapter as well as an engaging full introduction to the book as a whole that draws attention to race and ethnicity and intersectionality in studies of girlhood. It also considers the category of "girl" from queer perspectives and reflects on new inflections of teen femininity in popular fiction.

At once intellectual history and feminist document of this moment, Angela McRobbie’s Feminism, Young Women and Cultural Studies reminds us that McRobbie has accompanied European and American girls and women for over 50 years. For scholars, the book is a gift to teaching that history. For students, it is a rich and personal account of writing that history and narrating changes in one’s own thinking, in dialogue with the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies and its leading authors, like Stuart Hall, Richard Hoggart, Paul Gilroy and Paul Willis, and McRobbie’s feminist co-author Jenny Garber. McRobbie studied and disrupted at Birmingham, bringing girls, women and feminism to the liberatory and still exclusionary precincts of theorizing working class male culture. In her new essays in Part 1, she returns to her own thinking on class and gender through the social prism of race in several cultural industries and in conversation with such monumental authors as bell hooks, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Saidiya Hartman. McRobbie is an honest and urgent scholar who has held close the promise of feminist cultural studies while re-directing her own work with compassion and clarity. A beautiful book.

Lisa Henderson, Professor and Dean, Faculty of Information and Media Studies, University of Western Ontario

For an astounding 50 years, Angela McRobbie has led the way in feminist cultural studies. This collection brings together classic pieces from the past with vital new essays on gender, race, class and power. Across the decades, every page teems with insightful and stimulating ideas.

David Hesmondhalgh, Professor of Media, Music and Culture, University of Leeds

Dating back to the 1970s and continuing to the present day, cultural studies scholar and sociologist Angela McRobbie stands alone as the founder of an entire tradition of feminist sociological investigations of cultural influence. She has inspired literally generations of feminist scholars and continues to do so. This much overdue volume identifies her most influential pieces and makes them easily accessible to a new generation of cultural studies scholars. These engrossing articles, each and every one a classic, chart the history of McRobbie’s scholarship, which for generations challenged the accepted patriarchal terms of cultural analysis while elevating its theoretical discourse. As an incredible bonus, McRobbie begins the volume with a series of new writings recontextualizing and retheorizing her original Birmingham School work for the contemporary moment. The collection as a whole will be of tremendous interest across sociology and cultural studies.

Andrea L. Press, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Media Studies and Sociology, University of Virginia

Angela McRobbie

Angela McRobbie FBA is a British cultural theorist, feminist and commentator whose work combines the study of popular culture, contemporary media practices and feminism through conceptions of a third-person reflexive gaze. She is a professor of communications at Goldsmiths College, University of London.