At this point it seems apposite to return to some of the concerns of the opening chapter, where I drew a distinction between ‘fame’ and ’celebrity’. Fame, I argued, is best regarded as the process by which people become well-known. What constitutes well-known-ness? It must surely be defined as a degree of public knowledge above what would be expected of an individual, given his or her social status and the type of relationship network s/he would be expected to have. This definition does not, by itself, account for the fact that, for whatever reason, some individuals are simply more popular than others. But fame is a level of well-known-ness beyond what can be achieved through mere popularity, and so it requires either a specific deed or achievement to generate publicity, or a vehicle for the spread of news. I have made this definition of fame sufficiently broad that it might be applied to limited contexts, such as a school or a small geographical area. Celebrity, by contrast, is a phenomenon associated with mass communication, specifically television and print media. All celebrities are famous; for better or worse, most famous people are now celebrities.
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Notes and References
- 1.Braudy, L. (1997) The Frenzy of Renown: Fame and its History (2nd edition). New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
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- 7.Cited in Simonton, D. K. (1994) Greatness: Who Makes History and Why. New York: Guildford Press.Google Scholar
- 8.Gledhill C. (ed.) (1991) Stardom: Industry of Desire. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- 9.Griffiths, M. and Joinson, A. (1998) ‘Max-imum impact: The psychology of fame’. Psychology Post, 6, pp. 8–9.Google Scholar