The news feed from the Centre for Culture and the Creative Industries at City, University of London

Surveying Manga Research

Dr Casey Brienza’s newest peer-reviewed journal article, ‘Sociological Perspectives on Japanese Manga in America,’ has been published this month in the latest issue of Sociology Compass.

Abstract: Japanese popular culture has, according to journalist Roland Kelts, “invaded” the United States in the 21st century, and in particular Japanese comics, known as manga, have successfully “conquered America,” according to Wired magazine. Within the publishing trade itself, the medium’s cultural and commercial success became known as the “manga revolution” or the “manga boom.” Yet despite all of this excitable rhetoric, there has thus far been scant sociological research into the particularities of this emerging phenomenon, and what exists is widely dispersed across multiple humanities and social science disciplines. This essay therefore aims to unite this scattered literature and provide a comprehensive survey of sociological perspectives on Japanese manga in America. I identify and explore three main substantive trends in the scholarly discourse: (i) studies of gender and sexuality and the homoerotic manga genres known as boys’ love or yaoi; (ii) intellectual property, copyright, and the global digital piracy of manga colloquially known as “scanlation”; and (iii) studies of cultural production and the political economy of the American manga industry. This essay concludes with a discussion of the limitations these perspectives have in common and suggests a more critical research program drawing upon an expanded theoretical toolkit.

Reference: Brienza, C. (2014), Sociological Perspectives on Japanese Manga in America. Sociology Compass, 8: 468–477. doi: 10.1111/soc4.12158

sbbj806 • April 29, 2014

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