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Popular Culture

This guide offers library resources for effective research on pop culture.


The term pop culture gets thrown around a lot, but do you know what it actually means? Pop culture refers to popular culture which is aimed at the younger generation and transmitted via the mass media. Popular culture is essentially a set of beliefs, values, actions, objects, or goods and practices that are popular at any given time and space in society. It can refer to things like art, literature, fashion, dance, film, television, magazines and ways of living to name a few.

Essentialy Pop

Pop culture is highly interdisciplinary. The boundaries are vague as it intersects with other social aspects of life. No guide in this area can be comprehensive. If you are choosing this topic for a research project, be prepared to find resources in various subject areas. Ask library staff if you need help.

Cornell University Pop Culture LibGuide

Decorative image: :Pop Culture Connects Us" text.

Image Credit: MoPop

As the name implies, popular culture has a significant influence on a teenager's everyday life. Clothing stores, social media and music on the radio are topics that students discuss on a daily basis. Pop culture plays an important role in influencing the way teenagers dress, think, conduct themselves and so on. However, this type of popular culture may be dangerous, as it has begun to have a negative impact on teenagers in their most formative years. 

Many of the same categories that influence young people today, such as TV, movies and celebrities, were popular with previous generations. However, the way that teens access and interact with popular culture today has been revolutionized by technology and specialization

The social norms, beliefs, language and morals of a society define its culture. The influence of culture can have both positive and negative effects on a teen's behavior and moral development.

Teenagers are the group most strongly influenced by pop culture. Not only are teens strongly influenced by pop culture but there is a lot of pressure to fit in. It affects them cognitively (how they think), emotionally (how they feel) and behaviorally (what they do).

Teens are growing every day and popular culture is helping mold them. They are affected from almost every aspect of the life around them, from television and movies to literature, music, and even sports. It even affects how teenagers talk and act. These are many ways that popular culture affects teenagers. 



Everywhere we turn we are surrounded by popular culture. Whether it is the movies and shows we watch, the art, comics, and books we read, the toys and video games we play with, or the clothes we wear. We just can’t seem to get away from it. Why are we influenced by pop culture?

It's How We Express Ourselves

The way we interact with pop culture says a lot about us! When you show interest in something from pop culture, it shows what you value as an individual! Pop culture has a real effect on your everyday life, and how you see yourself in relation to others.

Pop Culture Encourages Conversation

Even if you haven’t seen it, you probably know something about your parents’ favorite show or movie from when they were growing up. They’ve probably brought it up dozens of times, because they cherish those memories. 

That goes the same for people you might not know well, like people at your school or place of work. You might not know a person very well, but there’s a good chance that they’ve seen the newest superhero movie, or played the latest popular video game. Your knowledge of those pieces of pop culture gives you something to talk about with someone who would otherwise be a stranger. Pop culture has the power to start conversations and build your relationships with your family and friends.

Pop Culture Keeps Us Moving

When new books, movies and games come out, you’re exposed to new ideas, new stories, new characters and even new writers and artists who bring their own experiences into pop culture. That means you have new experiences all the time, which makes you more aware of what’s going on in the world around you. Every day is a new opportunity to discover something new that you love!

Never Stop Asking "Why" Blog, Indianapolis Children's Museum

           “Popular culture represents a common denominator, something that cuts across most

           economic, social and educational barriers.”- Edward Jay Whetmore

When people hear the words popular culture, they may instinctively think of their favorite band, their favorite TV show, their favorite movie and any other number of pop culture references that have become a part of our national identity. Pop culture is important in American society because it provides us with a unique national culture; it helps to bridge our many differences and provides us with some commonality in a society that is so diverse.

Part of the broad appeal of popular culture is that it is a shared experience with other members of society and sharing these experiences connect us. It builds and strengthens interactions with people who are into the same kind of things.

LA Public Library Blog

Pop culture keeps changing from generation to generation and has a pronounced effect on the youth because youth is more attuned with social media which in today’s age is the most powerful tool in disseminating culture in general. Pop culture gives youth a lot of avenues to explore. It helps people express their identity better. Youth are driven towards or attracted to pop culture because it makes them stand against the crowd. For someone who may experience difficulty in figuring out their own identity, they can express themselves in terms of a character or icon they relate to. Social media and blogs are full of people who have spoken about pop culture icons and characters helping them accept themselves and come out of the closet. On a more personal level, pop culture helps people grow and be more accepting considering the vast amount of representation throughout the various genres in pop cultures.

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eBooks + Books

Discover eBook collections or find print books/materials through the catalog for each campus:


Suggested Websites

Internet Archive

A digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. 

Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)

Our mission is to make creative expression a life-changing force by offering experiences that inspire and connect our communities.

PEW Research Center

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world.

Pop Culture Happy Hour - NPR

Five days a week, Pop Culture Happy Hour serves you recommendations and commentary on the buzziest movies, TV, music, books, videogames and more.

Pop Culture Madness

An entertainment news network that provides pop culture news and information about pop culture media.


An international magazine of cultural criticism and analysis with the mission to educate as well as entertain.


We are on a mission to produce and distribute engaging data journalism to the world’s news organizations.


Entertainment news, film reviews, awards, film festivals, box office, entertainment industry conferences.


The leading modern media company. We guide our audience from discovery to obsession. We inspire essential conversations about what's now, what's next, and what's possible.

World Radio History

Thousands of free magazines & publications about radio-electronics-music-technology from USA UK and the World.



What is the role popular culture plays in expressing our values of community? Take a fresh look at the icons that our collective consciousness brings to the surface and the rituals that celebrate them with this entertaining documentary filmmaker.

The media is supposed to tell us everything important: so why, after spending so long with it, are we generally so overloaded, confused and oddly unfocused on the stuff that really matters?