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Mainstream
Mainstream is current thought that is widespread. It includes all popular culture and media culture, typically disseminated by mass media. It is to be distinguished from subcultures and countercultures, and at the opposite extreme are cult followings and fringe theories.

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. In the United States, mainline churches are sometimes referred to synonymously as "mainstream.

The labels "Mainstream media", or "mass media", are generally applied to print publications, such as newspapers and magazines that contain the highest readership among the public, and to radio formats and television stations that contain the highest viewing and listener audience, respectively. 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 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 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.

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 they are a minority among American Protestants, claiming approximately 15 percent of American adults.

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. Indeed, one citation of this sense is found prior to Carlyle's, as early as 1599.