There is nothing new about celebrity culture. It is an intrinsic feature of a world structured by mechanical reproduction. However, what has been visible over the last few years in Britain is a modulation of representations of celebrity figures in entertainment and news media through reality TV series, newspapers and gossip magazines. In this article, we argue that celebrity is an increasingly significant means by which reactionary class attitudes, allegiances and judgements are communicated. In contradistinction to claims that the concept of social class has lost its analytic value in the context of contemporary consumer society with the growing ideological purchase of meritocracy and choice, we contend that class remains central to the constitution and meaning of celebrity. A central premise of this article is that celebrity culture is not only thoroughly embedded in everyday social practices but is more radically constitutive of contemporary social life. We examine this claim through a consideration of the ways in which celebrity produces and sustains class relations. We argue that a new category of notoriety or public visibility has emerged and is embodied in the figure of the working-class female celebrity, who operates as what Skeggs terms the ‘constitutive limit to propriety’ within celebrity culture and wider social life (2005: 968).
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, European Journal of Cultural Studies, 13 (3), 2010, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2010 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the European Journal of Cultural Studies page: http://ecs.sagepub.com/ on SAGE Journals Online: http://online.sagepub.com/