The communication of social and cultural tensions embodied in the symbol Madonna explain the unparalleled public and scientific fascination for this cultural phenomenon. These tensions can be seen as communications of reflexive modernisation, in which modernisation has produced its own counterforce. We propose to understand ‘celebrity’ as a position from which a symbol can communicate such social tensions. That is to say that celebrity is a space in which the production of certain frames takes place. Through this process, celebrity becomes a mechanism of new modes of social control. Madonna, as a quintessential celebrity, is a perfect case to illustrate this theoretical standpoint. In this article, we elaborate on three specific tensions of reflexive modernisation communicated through Madonna: those between patriarchy and feminism, heterosexuality and queer lifestyles, and religiosity and secularism.

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Celebrity Studies
Department of Sociology

van den Berg, M, & ter Hoeven, C.L. (2017). ‘Madonna’ as a symbol of reflexive modernization. Celebrity Studies, 4(2), 144–154. doi:10.1080/19392397.2013.791042