Document Type

Honors Project

Publication Date



My research examines popular culture references as they are used in daily conversation. Popular culture as I have examined it refers to anything in social media, TV, movies, books, music, etc. In this research, I use a combination of frameworks from sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, and semiotics to examine the function of pop culture in a conversation and the effect it has on both the conversation itself and the speakers. My research has a few different goals. First, I posit that pop culture can simultaneously be both mass mediated and highly individualized. Second, I posit that when pop culture references are used in conversation, they can affect the course of the conversation and influence the language used. Finally, I posit that when a speaker makes a pop culture reference, they are indexing a part of their own identity, while also attempting to establish a group identity.

Level of Honors

magna cum laude




Lavanya Murali