Feb. – 27 th
Celebrity & Social Status
•Take for example the Oscars (last night) – most people adjust their schedules
to watch the show, the red carpet special and marvel at the stars. For people,
the Oscars are a place to feel and belong among stars.
•What to talk about today: The notion in which we think about celebrities has
changed, we can think of celebrities as communicating certain aspects of social
values back to us and also how celebrities communicate themselves.
•At the heart of any discussion about celebrity is a discussion about social
status – we are interested about celebrities in communication because
celebrity is a means by which we can think about how social status is
•Our interest in celebrity as academics stems from a sociological interest in
social status – how social status is distributed
•One can see that all species divide up themselves according to different types
of status – for example we have queen bees and worker bee. Status
determines one’s pathway in that ranking
•One of the ways in which we divide the world according to social status is by
class – upper class, middle class (Max Weber makes the argument that being
part of a particular class determines your pathway – opens some doors, closes
•The word celebrity has an interesting history – it comes from the Latin word
that means celebrate which signifies a big event. The word celebrity changes
by the 1970s from something that was an event to something that is an
individual. Now it refers to state of being famous, the state of notoriety.
•Thinking about celebrity is asking the question how some people achieve the
status of celebrity. What do people do to become famous and what does that
say about the society that grants them that fame?
•In general we can say that there are 2 different ways in which become
oHave your celebrity status ascribed to you –people who are famous
because they have been given. For example – prince harry is a celebrity
because he is part of a dynasty. Ascribed celebrities are famous because
they belong to or are associated with famous