On television, in magazines and books, on the internet and in films, celebrities of all sorts seem to monopolize our attention. Celebrity Society brings new dimensions to our understanding of celebrity, capturing the way in which the figure of ‘the celebrity’ is bound up with the emergence of modernity. It outlines how the ‘celebrification of society’ is not just the twentieth-century product of Hollywood and television, but a long-term historical process, beginning with the printing press, theatre and art.
By looking beyond the accounts of celebrity ‘culture’, Robert van Krieken develops an analysis of ‘celebrity society’, with its own constantly changing social practices and structures, moral grammar, construction of self and identity, legal order and political economy organized around the distribution of visibility, attention and recognition. Drawing on the work of Norbert Elias, the book explains how contemporary celebrity society is the heir (or heiress) of court society, taking on but also democratizing many of the functions of the aristocracy. The book also develops the idea of celebrity as driven by the ‘economics of attention’, because attention has become a vital and increasingly valuable resource in the information age.
This engaging new book will be a valuable resource for students and scholars in sociology, politics, history, celebrity studies, cultural studies, the sociology of media and cultural theory.