Cultural studies is an academic field of critical theory and literary criticism initially introduced by British academics in 1964 and subsequently adopted by allied academics throughout the world. Characteristically interdisciplinary, cultural studies is an academic discipline aiding cultural researchers who theorize about the forces from which the whole of humankind construct their daily lives. Cultural Studies is not a unified theory, but a diverse field of study encompassing many different approaches, methods and academic perspectives. Distinct from the breadth, objective and methodology of cultural anthropology and ethnic studies, cultural studies is focussed upon the political dynamics of contemporary culture and its historical foundations, conflicts and defining traits. Researchers concentrate on how a particular medium or message relates to ideology, social class, nationality, ethnicity, sexuality and/or gender, rather than providing an encyclopedic identification, categorization or definition of a particular culture or area of the world.
Cultural studies combines feminist theory, social theory, political theory, history, philosophy, literary theory, media theory, film/video studies, communication studies, political economy, translation studies, museum studies and art history/criticism to study cultural phenomena in various societies. Thus, cultural studies seeks to understand how meaning is generated, disseminated, and produced from the social, political and economic spheres within a given culture. The influential theories of cultural hegemony and agency have emerged from the cultural studies movement as well as the most recent communications theory, which attempts to explain the cultural forces behind globalization. Unique academic approaches to cultural studies have also emerged in the United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa and Italy.