Cultural Critique: Re-negotiating authority in contemporary media culture


This calls invites article proposals on cultural critique in contemporary media culture. Interconnected media institutional and technological developments have during the past two decades enabled advanced public participation in cultural debate, but also challenged intellectual authority, enlightenment and expertise. Today cultural critique stems not only from traditional critical institutions such as academia and the news media, associated with intellectual and public authority. Culture critical authority is constantly performed and (re)negotiated in various types of digital media by bloggers, celebrities, intellectuals, pundits, radio and TV hosts as well as amateur reviewers. Processes of digitalization, commercialization and professionalization in the media industries have thus blurred the boundaries of what is ‘cultural critique’ and who may be labelled ‘a cultural critic’?


At least four interconnected features have challenged the established critical institutions:

1)  The media’s favouring of cultural generalists at the expense of specialists (e.g. Dahlgren 2012; Walsh 2003) with ‘critics’ without an aesthetic knowledge entering the culture critical scene, potentially marginalizing academically grounded, cultural critique and art reviewing (e.g., Elkins 2003; McDonald 2007)

2)  Amateurs and their increasing participation in cultural debate from a bottom-up or more subjective and experienced-based perspective by means of digital media platforms, i.e., agents residing outside institutionalized frameworks (e.g., Gillespie 2012; Kristensen & From 2015, Verboord 2014), performing popular expertise (e.g. Lewis 2008)

3)  Celebrity culture’s ubiquity in view of visibility, renown and fame increasingly equalling authority (e.g. Krieken 2012) and suggesting that fame and authority in one sphere can be translated into influence in other spheres (e.g. Couldry 2012, Driessens 2013).

4)  Social media’s blurring of the boundaries between the public and private, challenging conceptions of when and how cultural critics perform as professionals and when they provide more private judgments of taste or statements (e.g.Canter 2014) 

These features point to the necessity of more thoroughly investigating the current reconfigurations of cultural critical authority and expertise in (digital) media and by means of (digital) media. Hence, this proposed special issue of Mediekultur aims to address the shifting relations between specialists/generalists, professionals/amateurs, producers/users, public/private in cultural critique; how these shifts put the traditional authority and self-understanding of the cultural critic to the test; and how media visibility, media capital or celebrity capital have become pivotal for gaining a critical voice.


We welcome both theoretically and/or empirically focused contributions that address the following topics and questions (but not exclusively):

  • How can we conceptualize ‘cultural critique’ in contemporary media culture?
  • How does the increasing heterogeneity of cultural arbiters of taste in contemporary media influence and transform the production, form and content of cultural critique?
  • How do digital media (e.g., blogs/vlogs, Twitter, Instagram) influence, reproduce, challenge and transform cultural critique and its established genre conventions?
  • Which media historical and -structural changes have occasioned the contemporary heterogeneity of cultural critics in the media, and how do media systemic and/or, national/cross-national cultural perspectives play into this?
  • What are the interplay of celebrity culture and cultural critique in regard to, for example, journalists’ self-branding, micro-celebrities and amateur critics, the cultural critic as a celebrity/the celebrity as cultural critic?
  • How can we understand changing notions of authority and expertise in cultural critique and/or conceptualize cultural authority and media visibility?
  • What is the role and/or interplay of various types of (digital) media in producing and reproducing cultural critics?


Guest editors (to whom abstracts should be submitted): Helle Kannik Haastrup & Nete Nørgaard Kristensen

Issue editor: Nanna Holdgaard:


- Submission of abstracts (300 words max): June 12 2017

- Invitation to submit full articles: July 1 2017

- Submission of articles: February 1 2018

- Publication: November/December 2018

Practical information: The open call invites proposals in both English and the Scandinavian languages.



Canter, Lily (2014) Personalised tweeting: The emerging practices of journalists on Twitter. Digital Journalism, 3(6): 888-907.

Couldry, Nick (2012) Media, Society, World. Oxford: Polity.

Dahlgren, Peter (2012) Public Intellectuals, Online Media, and Public Spheres: Current Realignments. International Journal of Politics, Culture & Society 25 (4): 95-110.

Driessens, Olivier (2013) Celebrity capital: redefining celebrity using field theory. Theory and Society 42 (5): 543-560.

Elkins, James (2003) What Happened to Art Criticism. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press.

Gillespie, Ryan (2012) The Art of Criticism in the Age of Interactive Technology: Critics, Participatory Culture, and the Avant-Garde. International Journal of Communication 6: 56–75.

Krieken, Robert van (2012) Celebrity Society, London & New York: Routledge.

Kristensen, Nete Nørgaard & From, Unni (2015) From Ivory tower to cross-media personas: the heterogeneous cultural critic in the media. Journalism Practice 9(6): 853-871

Lewis, Tania (2008) Smart Living. Lifestyle Media and Popular Expertise. New York: Peter Lang

McDonald, Ronan (2007) The Death of the Critic. London: Continuum.

Walsh, Peter (2003) That Withered Paradigm: The Web, the Expert, and the Information Hegemony. In Democracy and New Media, edited by Henry Jenkins and David Thorburn. MIT Press.

Verboord, Marc (2014) The impact of peer-produced criticism on cultural evaluation: A multilevel analysis of discourse employment in online and offline film reviews. New Media & Society 16 (6): 921-940