Power Plays Power Works: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Power Plays Power Works

1st Edition

By John Fiske, Black Hawk Hancock


338 pages

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Now, more than 20 years since its initial release, John Fiske’s classic text Power Plays Power Works remains both timely and insightful as a theoretically driven examination of the terrain where the politics of culture and the culture of politics collide.

Drawing on a diverse set of cultural sites - from alternative talk radio forums, museums, celebrity fandom, to social problems such as homelessness - Fiske traverses the topography of the American cultural landscape to highlight the ways that ordinary people creatively construct their social identities and relationships through the use of the resources available to them, while constrained by social conditions not of their own choosing. This important analysis provides a set of critical methodological and analytical tools to grapple with the complexities and struggles of contemporary social life.

A new introductory essay by former Fiske student Black Hawk Hancock entitled ‘Learning How to Fiske: Theorizing Power, Knowledge, and Bodies in the 21st Century’ elucidates Fiske’s methods for today’s students, providing them with the ultimate guide to thinking and analyzing like John Fiske; the art of ‘Learning How to Fiske’.


"This most theoretically masterful and politically trenchant of Fiske’s works allows the next generation the benefit of his intellectual acuity. Framed by Black Hawk Hancock’s thoughtful overview, Fiske teaches us anew how to apply a wide body of cultural theory to the power inequities of the 21st century."

Elana Levine, Associate Professor, Department of Journalism, Advertising, and Media Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

"Power Plays, Power Works first released in 1993 was a staple for graduate students and media savvy citizens throughout America and Europe. As a student and colleague of John Fiske, Black Hawk Hancock’s thoughtful introduction offers a studied perspective on the book’s continued importance as a canon of popular culture, race, gender and belonging."

Darrell M. Newton, Associate Dean and Professor, The Fulton School of Liberal Arts, Salisbury University

Table of Contents

Learning How to Fiske: Theorizing Power, Knowledge, and Bodies in the 21st Century

Black Hawk Hancock

Part One: Power and Cultural Theory

1. Power Plays

2. U.S. Cultures, European Theories

Part Two: Controlling Bodies

3. Bodies of Knowledge

4. Sporting Spectacles: The Body Visible

5. Elvis: A Body of Controversy

6. The Body of Violence

Part Three: Representing and Knowing

7. Act Globally, Think Locally

8. Gunfight at the P.C. Corral

9. Local Knowledge

10. Things and Practices

Part Four: White Power, Black Power

11. Blackened White

12. Power Works

13. Counter Power Works

Coda: The Slave Ship

Appendix: The John Fiske Reading List

About the Authors

John Fiske is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.

Black Hawk Hancock is an Associate Professor of Sociology at DePaul University, USA.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies