From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
- something that is normal;
- something that is familiar to the masses;
- something that is available to the general public.
As such, the mainstream includes all popular culture, typically disseminated by mass media. The opposite of the mainstream are subcultures, countercultures, cult followings, underground cultures and (in fiction) genre. Additionally, Mainstream is sometimes a codeword used for one's own actual ethnocentric or subculture point of view, especially when delivered in a culture war speech. It is sometimes used as a pejorative term.
In literature, particularly in literary criticism, "mainstream" is used to designate traditional realistic or mimetic fiction, as opposed to genre fictions such as science fiction, romance novels and mysteries, as well as to experimental fiction.
- see hit
Musically, mainstream music denotes music that is familiar to the masses, as for example popular music, pop music, middle of the road music, rock and roll music and most modern rap music. Mainstream jazz is generally seen as an evolution of be-bop, which was originally regarded as radical.
Mainstream pressure, through actions such as peer pressure, can force individuals to conform to the mores of the group (e.g., an obedience to the mandates of the peer group). Some have stated that they see mainstream as the antithesis of individuality.