The mainstream is the prevalent current thought that is widespread. It includes all popular culture and media culture, typically disseminated by mass media. This word is sometimes used in a pejorative sense by subcultures who view ostensibly mainstream culture as not only exclusive but artistically and aesthetically inferior. It is to be distinguished from subcultures and countercultures, and at the opposite extreme are cult followings and fringe theories. In the United States, mainline churches are sometimes referred to synonymously as "mainstream."
The term mainstream refers to the main current of a river or stream. Its figurative use by Thomas Carlyle to indicating the prevailing taste or mode is attested at least as early as 1831, even though one citation of this sense is found prior to Carlyle's, as early as 1599.
The labels "mainstream media" and "mass media" are generally applied to print publications (such as newspapers and magazines), radio formats, and television stations that contain the highest audience or have the broadest appeal. This is in contrast to various independent media, such as alternative media newspapers, specialized magazines in various organizations and corporations, and various electronic sources such as podcasts and blogs (though certain blogs are more mainstream than others given their association with a mainstream source).
Mainstream Christianity is a term used to collectively refer to the common views of major denominations of Christianity that adhere to the Nicene Creed (such as Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Roman Catholicism, and Protestantism) as opposed the particular tenets of other Christian denominations. The context is dependent on the particular issues addressed, but usually contrasts an orthodox majority view against a heterodox minority view. In the most common sense, "mainstream" refers to Nicene Christianity, that is the traditions which accept the Nicene Creed.
Mainstream American Protestant churches (also called "Mainline Protestant") are a group of Protestant churches in the United States that have stressed social justice and personal salvation, and both politically and theologically, tend to be more liberal than non-mainstream Protestants. Mainstream Protestant churches share a common approach that often leads to collaboration in organizations such as the National Council of Churches, and because of their involvement with the ecumenical movement, they are sometimes given the alternative label of "ecumenical Protestantism" (especially outside the United States). While in 1970 the mainstream Protestant churches claimed most Protestants and more than 30 percent of the American population as members, as of 2009[update] they are a minority among American Protestants, claiming approximately 15 percent of American adults.
Mainstream science is scientific inquiry in an established field of study that does not depart significantly from orthodox theories. In the philosophy of science, mainstream science is an area of scientific endeavor that has left the process of becoming established. New areas of scientific endeavor still in the process of becoming established are generally labelled protoscience or fringe science. A definition of mainstream in terms of protoscience and fringe science can be understood from the following table:
|Systematized as scientific definition|
|Treated with scientific method|
|Attempts to be scientific or resembles science|
|Superstition||Pseudoscience||Protoscience||Fringe science||(Mainstream) science|
By its standard practices of applying good scientific methods, mainstream science is distinguished from pseudoscience as a demarcation problem and specific types of inquiry are debunked as junk science, cargo cult science, scientific misconduct, etc.
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, such as those of modern Hipster culture, have stated that they see the mainstream as the antithesis of individuality.
According to sociologist G. William Domhoff, critiques of mainstream sociology and political science that suggest their allegiance to an elite few, such as the work of sociologists C. Wright Mills (especially his book The Power Elite) and Floyd Hunter, troubles mainstream sociologists, and mainstream sociology "often tries to dismiss power structure research as muckraking or mere investigative journalism" and downplays the notion of dominance by a power elite because of doubts about the ability of many business sectors to coordinate a unified program, while generally overlooking a policy-planning network that can perform this function.
In the most common sense, "mainstream" refers to Nicene Christianity, or rather the traditions which continue to claim adherence to the Nicene Creed.
Christianity, after all, divides into the major traditions Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox.
The Nicene Creed is the profession of the Christian Faith common to the Catholic Church, to all the Eastern Churches separated from Rome, and to most of the Protestant denominations
Christian statement of faith that is the only ecumenical creed because it is accepted as authoritative by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and major Protestant churches