||This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2012)|
|Look up mainstream in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
The mainstream includes all popular culture and media culture, typically disseminated by mass media. The opposite of the mainstream are subcultures, countercultures, cult followings, and (in fiction) genre. Additionally, mainstream is sometimes a codeword used for an actual ethnocentric or hegemonic subculture point of view, especially when delivered in a culture war speech. It is often used as a pejorative term 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." Also known as "straight" and "straights" for individuals. 
In film 
Mainstream films can best be defined as commercial films that are made by major entertainment studios or companies that are owned by international media conglomerates. Because of better financing, these films can afford more expensive actors, wide releases, and are sold at popular retail stores. This has become known as the studio system. Films made by major studios or companies that are not owned by a media conglomerate but are distributed by a company owned by a media conglomerate (see Lucasfilm) are also considered to be mainstream and are often referred to as mainstream independent films. Companies that are completely independent, such as Lionsgate, also produce mainstream films, from a cultural standpoint, but independent of the studio system. The alternative to mainstream films are sub genre films that appeal to a certain audience, such as African American films. Low budget films, art films, and experimental films are often the starting point for entertainers who wish to enter into the mainstream circuit or a sub genre circuit. Mainstream films are targeted for all cultures and audiences, with the dominating culture and audience being the primary marketing focus, while sub genre films are marketed towards only one specific culture and audience. Mainstream films often recruit talent from all film genres and backgrounds.
In the media 
Mainstream media, or mass media, is generally applied to print publications, such as newspapers and magazines that contain the highest readership among the public, along with 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 weekly 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.
In music 
Mainstream music denotes music that is familiar to the masses, as for example popular music, pop music, middle of the road music, pop rap or pop rock; Mainstream jazz is generally seen as an evolution of be-bop, which was originally regarded as radical.
Opposing mainstream music is the music of subcultures. This exists in virtually all genres of music and is found commonly in punk rock, indie rock, alternative/underground hip hop, anti-folk and heavy metal, among others. In the 1960s this music was exemplified by the music of the hippie counterculture.
Punk rock has distinguished itself from other non-mainstream genres by self-asserting an active anti-mainstream social movement that resists commercialism and corporate control. The punk subculture generally frowns upon major label bands that play punk music that disavows the DIY punk ethic, and views them as synonymous with mainstream music. Several anti-corporate and not-for-profit forms of alternative protest have surfaced in the punk underground, such as self-made publications known as zines, where there is greater freedom to discuss controversial (usually far left) political issues such as discrimination, LGBT community issues, feminism, antitheism, and veganism. These principles have also been adopted to a certain extent also in heavy metal and alternative hip hop cultures, amongst others, but not to the same degree as punk.
In science 
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||Fringe science||Protoscience||(Mainstream) science|
By its standard practices of applying good scientific methods, mainstream is distinguished from pseudoscience as a demarcation problem and specific types of inquiry are debunked as junk science, cargo cult science, scientific misconduct, etc.
In sociology 
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.
Mainstreaming is the practice of bringing disabled students into the “mainstream” of student life. Mainstreamed students attend some classes with typical students and other classes with students that have similar disabilities. Mainstreaming represents a midpoint between full inclusion (all students spend all day in the regular classroom) and dedicated, self-contained classrooms or special schools (disabled students are isolated with other disabled students).
Gender mainstreaming 
The difference of male and female, in the sense that human beings are distinguished as non-conformant.
The term "mainstream" is derived from the term used to refer to the main body of water that all streams flow to containing the greatest density of aquatic life at a single point.
"Mainstream" was originally used by fishers to refer to the portion of the stream where the most fish would gather. This was also considered the prime location to find fish.
The term "mainstream" was coined in the mid-1990s to refer negatively to mass or mindless culture. It has since evolved to encompass all forms of culture that seemingly lack meaning or originality and appeals to the broadest number of people.
- "Princeton Edu definition" http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=mainstream
- Caldwell, John. "Faith in school: as mainstream churches continue to wrestle with homosexuality, some religious colleges are taking an increasingly welcoming attitude toward gay students,", The Advocate Sept 2, 2003
- Baer, Hans A. "Black Mainstream Churches; Emancipatory or Accommodative Responses to Racism and Social Stratification in American Society?" Review of Religious Research Vol. 30, No. 2 (Dec., 1988), pp. 162-176
- America in the Sixties. John Robert Greene. Syracuse University Press, 2010
- Wallsten, K. (2007), Agenda Setting and the Blogosphere: An Analysis of the Relationship between Mainstream Media and Political Blogs. Review of Policy Research, 24: 567–587. doi: 10.1111/j.1541-1338.2007.00300.x
- Reflections on the reception of unconventional claims in science, newsletter Center for Frontier Sciences, Temple University (1990).
- Thomas Kuhn: Reflections on my critics. In: Imre Lakatos and A. Musgrave: Criticism and the growth of knowledge. Cambridge University Press, London (1974), pp. 231–278.