From the book Stars by Richard Dyer:
Conditions for Stardom
Francesco Alberoni and Barry King have both suggested various social structures that must obtain for the phenomenon of stardom to exist. These conditions are necessary rather than sufficient – that is, they do not automatically produce stars but are the grounds on which stardom may be produced. Alberoni is concerned with stardom as a general social phenomenon and not just with film stardom. His definition of stardom, already indicated in the title of his article (‘The Powerless Elite’), centres on the fact that stars are a group of people ‘whose institutional power is very limited or non-existent, but whose doings and way of life arouse a considerable and sometimes even a maximum degree of interest’ (Alberoni, p. 75).
The basic conditions for this phenomenon, Alberoni — a state of law
— a state of law
— an efficient bureaucracy
— a structured social system
(These three factors ensure that social roles are delimited and judged according to
‘objective’ criteria (e.g. efficiency). In this situation, stars operate only in their own
sphere and there is no ‘danger’ of their ‘charisma’ becoming important ‘from a
political point of view’…)
Cinema’s glamor has always been inseparable from star performances and star images. On its first publication in 1980, this book set new standards for critical and theoretical rigor in the field of star studies. Through the intensive examination of films, magazines, and advertising–as well as critical texts–Richard Dyer analyzes the historical, ideological, and aesthetic significance of stars, changing the way we understand screen icons. Paying particular attention to Marlon Brando, Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich, Jane Fonda, Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, Robert Redford, and John Wayne, Stars is an indispensable textbook.
This new edition features a supplementary chapter by Paul McDonald that traces developments in star studies since the first appearance of Richard Dyer’s classic study.