Skip to main content

Person and Community in the Culture of Entertainment


Entertainment is so pervasive and influential in contemporary society that it is fair to say we live in an entertainment culture. What are the political, ethical, and spiritual implications of such a cultural environment? Building on the analysis offered in the author’s recent book Caught in Play: How Entertainment Works on You (Stromberg, 2009), this essay argues that entertainment is not susceptible to global moral evaluation, it is not “good” or “bad.” Rather, entertainment is a cultural system through which commitment to certain values is generated. This process, and these values, need to be brought into the light of day and assessed in open and critical discussion.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  • Bargh, J. A., Gollwitzer, P. M., Lee-Chai, A., Barndollar, K., & Trotschel, R. (2001). The automated will: nonconscious activation and pursuit of behavioral goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 1014–1027.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Campbell, C. (1987). The romantic ethic and the spirit of consumerism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Curtis, S. (1991). A consuming faith. The social gospel and modern American culture. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Putnam, R. (2000). Bowling alone. New York: Simon and Schuster.

    Google Scholar 

  • Spacks, P. (1995). Boredom. The literary history of a state of mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Stromberg, P. G. (2008). Symbolic valorization in the culture of entertainment: the example of legal drug use. Anthropological Theory, 8, 430–448.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Stromberg, P. G. (2009) Caught in play: How entertainment works on you. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

  • Weber, M. (1958). The protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism (orig 1904–5). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Peter G. Stromberg.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Stromberg, P.G. Person and Community in the Culture of Entertainment. Pastoral Psychol 60, 737–744 (2011).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Culture of entertainment
  • Values
  • Consumption
  • Secularization