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INTR 100

Finding Sources to Support Pop Culture Analysis

Do some research about your pop objects, and prepare a Works Cited page with at least four of the following:

·      a Wikipedia page or an on-line encyclopedia

·      a corporate website

·      a scholarly article (scholars write about pop culture and there may be a journal article pertaining to your object)

·      an article from a newspaper or trade magazine that mentions your pop object or the corporation that produces it

·      an image (video or photograph) of your pop object

·      an on-line forum or discussion thread

·      a consumer review

·      an advertisement       

As you do this research,

1)   keep a record of your sources on a Works Cited page... according to MLA or APA guidelines (which can be found at the Owl Purdue MLA website)

2) annotate each of your sources:

·      write a couple of sentences under each of your sources, taking stock of

o   the bias of the source

  to what degree is this information reliable?

·      For example, when citing information from a corporate website—which you may want to do--you would need to point out the obvious: namely, that this information, as a form of marketing, will certainly be biased since it has been specifically designed to present the corporation in a favourable light.  

o   the way in which each source might help you with your analysis

·      For example, if you found information about the discrepancy between the amount of money a corporation makes for a product and the wages of the workers that produce it, this could help you in a Marxist analysis

Pop Object / Idea / Concept

"Canada Shirt"

'which “[place]" is being produced, which experiences and practices are included, and which are marginalized?' (Crevani 2019)


 Black Kit-Cat.jpg
By Professor Ninja - Own work, CC BY 3.0, Link



Concept Narrower Related Broader
Kit-cat klock "glow in the dark" radioactivity colour
nostalgia marketing history, memory
collectibles reproductions hoarding hobbies

"We Need to Discuss Cultural Appropriation at Pride Parades" from Teen Vogue, June 23, 2017

Combining concepts to construct a complex search strategy:

("outdoor clothing" OR sportswear) (labour OR labor OR workers) (ethics OR "employment standards")

Combining concepts for effective search strategy:

("outdoor clothing" OR sportswear) (labour OR labor OR workers) ("employment standards")

venn diagram of search concepts

... Search... Read... Refine... Search...

photo of bejewelled high-heeled shoe
Photo: Dana McFarland CC-BY-NC-SA
Google Web Search

Choice of language may indicate perspective or bias in your sources, and is an important element in your evaluation of them.
Similarly, words that you choose for searching will also influence the nature of the information that you retrieve. Being conscious of this can help shape your search strategy.

Consider the differences in search results when you use one or another of the words in these sets:

  • review / critique / unboxing
  • headdress / war bonnet -- see:
  • fashion / art / hipster
  • Indian / First Nations / Native American / Blackfoot / Siksika / neo-tribal
  • cultural appropriation / political correctness
  • fake news / propaganda / lies / truth

Beyond familiar manifestations of bias, it is important also to be aware of data voids, or information voids, and how search terms may be strategically selected, promoted, and in effect used by proponents of a cause to lead Internet searchers to information sources that support that cause.

See: Data Voids: Where Missing Data Can Easily Be Exploited by Michael Golebiewski, danah boyd

Settings, personalization, and algorithms influence the nature and ranking of search results. Only some of this may be controlled by the researcher.

"Media scholars are increasingly problematizing the idea that search engines are neutral technologies or tools..."

See: "Search Engine Bias/“Google Bias." Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics, 2014

See also:

Not all Internet content can be readily retrieved through search engines such as Google. Much valuable web-based information may be located within databases that are not or cannot be crawled.

As part of your search strategy, consider which types of organizations or agencies might be expected to produce or disseminate the kind of information that you're looking for.

For example: headdresses

> museums > culture > MoA at UBC; Smithsonian ; NMAI ; Glenbow,

                  > art > Metropolitan Museum of Art

                          > fashion

> fashion industry websites (corporate) > e.g. Chanel images 1 and 2

> cultural groups > UBCIC 


> user, consumer, or advocacy groups > Osheaga Festival

Long term viability of information ("link rot") is a consideration in evaluating web sources: how to determine credibility when linked evidence seems to have disappeared? This may happen when those who post or publish online information are inattentive to maintaining or preserving it. The "memory hole," a related concept borrowed from George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, applies when inconvenient or embarrassing information on the web is deliberately altered or removed.

Services that periodically capture and preserve Internet content, such as the Internet Archive (otherwise known as the Wayback Machine), can be helpful:

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