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ISEK - Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies Popular Culture Studies


Understanding everyday life in its seemingly self-evident nature

The subject of Popular Culture Studies examines everyday life and seemingly self-evident situations as well as popular texts in different media forms. The subject is also called European Ethnology, Cultural Anthropology, Empirical Cultural Studies or Folklore Studies at other universities.

The interdisciplinary subject is located at the intersection of humanities and social sciences, combining ethnographical, textual, media-analytical and archival-historical methods.

The study contributes to the understanding of cultural and social phenomena and conflicts. It enables practice-oriented applications and cultural, literary and media-analytical thinking and work. Proven working fields are found in the media, in publishing and libraries, in cultural management, in foundations, in museum work and exhibition practice, in adult education and organisation culture, in public and private social, migrant and cultural work, in urban and settlement planning, and in tourism.

The subject of Popular Cultures Studies in Zürich is characterised by its two areas of the culture of everyday life and popular literature and media. This link between cultural research of everyday life and popular literature and media is unique in the German-speaking world.

Everyday Culture

The object of research is the culture of everyday life in traditional and present orders. It forms a special sphere of cultural experiences, action practices and objects. These are experienced not only subjectively, but are also socially shaped. Ethnographic methods, such as surveys, interviews, participatory observation and the analysis of oral, written and iconographic sources are used to study the norms, values, causes and effects of social mediation and social change.

Research subjects are popular reading materials, audio-visual media, traditional, everyday and life stories. They are examined regarding their cultural, social and literary and/or media-historical development and their significance in the present. Qualitative content, context, literature, image and film analysis are used to study text and image functions as well as implicit values and norms. In addition, questions of production, dissemination and use are considered.

You can find more information on the German page.