Postmodern theories of celebrity

Lee Barron*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


While the tenets of postmodernism, in its diverse theoretical forms, articulate a wide spectrum of social, individual and epistemic features, factors such as economic and cultural configurations, identity, media technologies and media consumption are common constituents. Although, in the view of many commentators, postmodernism’s ‘heyday’ as a pervasive mode of sociological and philosophical theory was the 1980s, its ethos and expression can be contemporaneously reflected within celebrity culture. This is because the lives of the famous are now central components of media output, dominating journalistic news culture (to the extent of raising professional fears that it is progressively eclipsing hard news coverage), from professional activities to global news coverage of events such as the birth and subsequent naming of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s second child, Saint, in December 2015. Furthermore, celebrity discourse is an omnipresent element across social media platforms, where their professional and personal activities are continuously visualised, analysed and commented upon (from peons of devotion to aggressive and vitriolic ‘trolling’). Yet, such platforms (Facebook, Twitter or Instagram) are also stages from which celebrities such as Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift or Rihanna incessantly post their own messages and images to tens of millions of followers across the globe. Moreover, in addition to the relentless circulation of celebrity images, television genres such as reality TV have established new pantheons of ‘ordinary’ celebrities whose public identities exist in a middle-state of constructed reality between their real lives and contrived, edited and directed activities (indeed, the distinctively Baudrillardian phrase ‘constructed reality’ is now the given term for reality TV shows such as the series The Only Way Is Essex and Made in Chelsea).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Celebrity Studies
EditorsAnthony Elliott
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781317691488
ISBN (Print)9781138022942
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2018


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