Paul E. Willis
With a new preface by the author
A classic of British cultural studies, Profane Culture takes the reader into the worlds of two important 1960s youth cultures—the motor-bike boys and the hippies. The motor-bike boys were working-class motorcyclists who listened to the early rock 'n' roll of the late 1950s. In contrast, the hippies were middle-class drug users with long hair and a love of progressive music. Both groups were involved in an unequal but heroic fight to produce meaning and their own cultural forms in the face of a larger society dominated by the capitalist media and commercialism. They were pioneers of cultural experimentation, the self-construction of identity, and the curating of the self, which, in different ways, have become so widespread today.
In Profane Culture, Paul Willis develops an important and still very contemporary theory and methodology for understanding the constructions of lived and popular culture. His new preface discusses the ties between the cultural moment explored in the book and today.
Paul E. Willis, an ethnographer and cultural theorist, is a lecturer with the rank of professor in the Department of Sociology at Princeton University. He is a founding editor and current joint editor of the journal Ethnography and the author of Learning to Labor: How Working Class Kids Get Working Class Jobs, among other books.