Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame: The Rise of a Pop Star in an Age of Celebrity, by Mathieu Deflem (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017)

Mathieu Deflem
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Published by Palgrave Macmillan, 2017 (paperback edition 2019)

ISBN: 978-1-137-58467-0 (hardback) | 978-1-349-95938-9 (paperback)

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© 2017

"I want the fame."  –Lady Gaga, May 2008
"The last three years I spent trying to erase fame from my mind."  –Lady Gaga, September 2016
This book presents a sociological study of the fame of global pop sensation Lady Gaga. Situated at the intersection of the sociology of popular culture and music, on the one hand, and the sociology of fame and celebrity, on the other, this work specifically offers an empirical examination of the social conditions that facilitated Lady Gaga’s rise to fame from when the singer first released music in 2008 until her successful grab for global acclaim in the following years. Among the issues considered are: the marketing of Lady Gaga; the legal issues that have accompanied her career; the media and the singer's audience; her activism; issues of sex, gender, and sexuality; and the unique artistry of Lady Gaga. By training a spotlight on this singular pop icon, this book invites readers to consider the nature of contemporary stardom in an age of celebrity.

1. Introduction 
2. Popular Culture and the Sociology of Fame
3. The Life and Times of Lady Gaga 
4. The Business of Lady Gaga 
5. The Laws of Lady Gaga 
6. Gaga Media: From Internet to Radio 
7. The Audience of Lady Gaga: Beyond the Little Monsters
8. Gaga Activism: The New Ethics of Pop Culture
9. The Sex of Lady Gaga
10. Art Pop: The Styles of Lady Gaga 
11. Conclusion
12. Epilogue: Professor Goes Gaga –Teaching Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame
12. Index


As a scholar of fame, Mathieu Deflem knows whereof he speaks: his courses on Lady Gaga have garnered international media attention and a bit of controversy as well... If you are not already a Little Monster, there is much to learn about Gaga in this volume... Despite Lady Gaga’s orientation to maximizing her own fame, Deflem argues that social conditions—in the pop music business, in the relevant legal arenas, and in media and audience resources—must be right for her to succeed... The well-designed cover beckons, and Deflem provides advice for non-sociologists about how to navigate the book; still, there may be too much sociology here for most readers of popular literature. But given what I know about fame and its audiences, Lady Gaga’s fans will find this book, and Mathieu Deflem will hear from them. I suspect he already has.
          – Kerry O. Ferris, American Journal of Sociology

Perhaps the most compelling event Deflem recounts is being sucked into the fame apparatus himself. When word got out that he was planning to offer a course called ‘‘Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame,’’ news organizations from around the world bombarded him with requests for interviews. He received countless email messages from both supporters and detractors, and his course blog went from receiving 800 to 40,000 views within a month. He was recognized by fans in Japan as the ‘‘Gaga professor’’ and was asked to pose for pictures.
          – Karen Sternheimer, Contemporary Sociology
Aware of the long history of elitism in sociology, Deflem’s book defends the need to research the popular in a manner that goes beyond the economic... Deflem theorizes the ways in which fame is created and given to celebrities. Building on a constructionist framework, he uses Lady Gaga as a case study in how to map the social conditions of fame...[His] analysis of the social conditions that facilitated her fame amount to much more than an ode. Deflem sketches a sociology of fame that is especially thought-provoking in its disruption of the boundaries between the academy and the popular realm.
          – Annelot Prins, Cultural Sociology
Deflem’s work is suitable for a broad readership... Deflem pays careful attention to defining the theoretical perspectives he applies, and this contributes to the book’s accessibility. As a case study, Deflem’s project is a useful way to begin to make sense of the changing nature of fame in the twenty-first century. [more].
          – Holly W. Holladay, Celebrity Studies
Pero Deflem defiende la necesidad de investigar lo popular de una manera que vaya más allá de lo económico y de los críticos que reducen la cultura popular a una mercancía vendida para distraer a los consumidores. En todo caso, él plantea que el suyo es un análisis académico, enfocado en las condiciones sociales de la fama de Lady Gaga: no en su música ni en su personaje. [more].
          – Patricio Tapia, Revista Santiago


The analysis of status is unique to sociology. Mathieu Deflem brilliantly confirms how the creation of Lady Gaga is part of a social process that creates celebrity against the backdrop of chaotic economic and moral conditions. Deflem methodically describes how fame can shape public attitudes toward controversial matters, leaving status embodied in traditional forms of professional expertise and institutional control less important than ever before.
          – Jonathan B. Imber, Jean Glasscock Professor of Sociology, Wellesley College

There are celebrities and there are mega-celebrities and then there is Lady Gaga. The star’s fame is only in small part built upon her voice and eye-popping costumes. Far more, it is her attitude: a cheerleader to all and sundry who had ever felt broken or dissed. Grasping the fullness of Gaga’s appeal, Deflem’s book is as appealing to her fans as it is for theorists of celebrity.
          – Deena Weinstein, Professor of Sociology, DePaul University

In this notable book, through careful theoretical insight and an in-depth analysis of Lady Gaga’s fame, Mathieu Deflem illustrates a new form of pop icon defying the transient nature of the cultural industry in the postmodern age. Deflem offers valuable lessons on the importance of social conditions, which include not only the market but also factors facilitating the activism and diversity orientation of pop artists seeking to gain fame.
          – Masaya Takahashi, Associate Professor, Saitama University

Professor Deflem’s study provides an intriguing and comprehensive exploration of the dynamics of Lady Gaga’s rise to fame. By the end, it is clear that there is no single one factor that serves as a predictor of future fame or commercial success. Those who work in or study the music industry should give this book a read.
          – Serona Elton, Associate Professor and Chair, Frost School of Music, University of Miami

This book delivers a stimulating sociological discussion of the mechanics behind fame and celebrity – aspects that have undoubtedly taken a stranglehold on American culture. Guiding the reader through the machinery for stardom using a lens focused on Lady Gaga’s determined path for fame, Professor Deflem’s book is an entertaining and educational read that provides a solid groundwork for further research in the area of celebrity.
          – Danwill D. Schwender, Attorney at Law 


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Check my online available articles on fame and Lady Gaga.

See also: LADYGAGA
(co-authored with Anna S. Rogers). Published by Anthem Press.
Published in paperback, eBook, and hardback editions.

See other books by Deflem. celebrity studies  enigma chromatica