Popular culture

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Popular culture (also called pop culture) is generally recognized by members of a society as a set of the practices, beliefs and objects that are dominant or ubiquitous in a society at a given point in time. Popular culture also encompasses the activities and feelings produced as a result of interaction with these dominant objects. Heavily influenced in modern times by mass media, this collection of ideas permeates the everyday lives of people in a given society. Therefore, popular culture has a way of influencing an individual's attitudes towards certain topics. [1] However, there are various ways to define pop culture. [2] Because of this, popular culture is something that can be defined in a variety of conflicting ways by different people across different contexts. [3] It is generally viewed in contrast to other forms of culture such as folk culture, working-class culture, or high culture, and also through different theoretical perspectives such as psychoanalysis, structuralism, postmodernism, and more. The most common pop-culture categories are: entertainment (such as movies, music, television and video games), sports, news (as in people/places in the news), politics, fashion/clothes, technology, and slang. [4]

Cultural practice generally refers to the manifestation of a culture or sub-culture, especially in regard to the traditional and customary practices of a particular ethnic or other cultural group. In the broadest sense, this term can apply to any person manifesting any aspect of any culture at any time. However, in practical usage it often refers to the traditional practices developed within specific ethnic cultures, especially those aspects of culture that have been practiced since ancient times.

Opinion judgment, viewpoint, or statement that is not conclusive; may deal with subjective matters in which there is no conclusive finding

An opinion is a judgment, viewpoint, or statement that is not conclusive.

Society Social group involved in persistent social interaction

A society is a group of individuals involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same geographical or social territory, typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations. Societies are characterized by patterns of relationships between individuals who share a distinctive culture and institutions; a given society may be described as the sum total of such relationships among its constituent of members. In the social sciences, a larger society often exhibits stratification or dominance patterns in subgroups.

Contents

Popular culture is sometimes viewed by many people as being trivial and "dumbed down" in order to find consensual acceptance from (or to attract attention amongst) the mainstream. As a result, it comes under heavy criticism from various non-mainstream sources (most notably from religious groups and from countercultural groups) which deem it superficial, consumerist, sensationalist, or corrupt. [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]

Dumbing down is the deliberate oversimplification of intellectual content in education, literature, and cinema, news, video games and culture. The term "dumbing down" originated in 1933, as movie-business slang used by screenplay writers, meaning: "[to] revise so as to appeal to those of little education or intelligence". Dumbing-down varies according to subject matter, and usually involves the diminishment of critical thought, by undermining intellectual standards within language and learning; thus trivializing meaningful information, culture, and academic standards, as in the case of popular culture.

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.

Subculture group of people within a culture that differentiates themselves from the larger culture to which they belong

A subculture is a group of people within a culture that differentiates itself from the parent culture to which it belongs, often maintaining some of its founding principles. Subcultures develop their own norms and values regarding cultural, political and sexual matters. Subcultures are part of society while keeping their specific characteristics intact. Examples of subcultures include hippies, goths and bikers. The concept of subcultures was developed in sociology and cultural studies. Subcultures differ from countercultures.

History and definitions

The term "popular culture" was coined in the 19th century or earlier. [10] Traditionally, popular culture was associated with poor education and the lower classes, [11] as opposed to the "official culture" and higher education of the upper classes. [12] [13] Victorian era Britain experienced social changes that resulted in increased literacy rates, and with the rise of capitalism and industrialisation, people began to spend more money on entertainment. Labelling penny dreadfuls the Victorian equivalent of video games, The Guardian described penny fiction as “Britain’s first taste of mass-produced popular culture for the young.” [14] A growing consumer culture and an increased capacity for travel via the invention of railway (the first public railway, Stockton and Darlington Railway, opened in north-east England in 1825) created both a market for cheap popular literature, and the ability for it to be circulated on a large scale. The first penny serials were published in the 1830s to meet this demand. [15]

Education Learning in which knowledge and skills is transferred through teaching

Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits. Educational methods include storytelling, discussion, teaching, training, and directed research. Education frequently takes place under the guidance of educators and also learners may also educate themselves. Education can take place in formal or informal settings and any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts may be considered educational. The methodology of teaching is called pedagogy.

Victorian era period of British history encompassing Queen Victorias reign (1837–1901)

In the history of the United Kingdom, the Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria's reign, from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. The era followed the Georgian period and preceded the Edwardian period, and its later half overlaps with the first part of the Belle Époque era of Continental Europe. In terms of moral sensibilities and political reforms, this period began with the passage of the Reform Act 1832. There was a strong religious drive for higher moral standards led by the nonconformist churches, such as the Methodist, and the Evangelical wing of the established Church of England. Britain's relations with the other Great Powers were driven by the colonial antagonism of the Great Game with Russia, climaxing during the Crimean War; a Pax Britannica of international free trade was maintained by the country's naval and industrial supremacy. Britain embarked on global imperial expansion, particularly in Asia and Africa, which made the British Empire the largest empire in history. National self-confidence peaked.

Literacy ability to read for knowledge, write coherently, and think critically about the written word; ability to read, write, and use arithmetic

Dictionaries traditionally define literacy as the ability to read and write. In the modern world, this is one way of interpreting literacy. One more broad interpretation sees literacy as knowledge and competence in a specific area. The concept of literacy has evolved in meaning. The modern term's meaning has been expanded to include the ability to use language, numbers, images, computers, and other basic means to understand, communicate, gain useful knowledge, solve mathematical problems and use the dominant symbol systems of a culture. The concept of literacy is expanding across OECD countries to include skills to access knowledge through technology and ability to assess complex contexts. A person who travels and resides in a foreign country but is unable to read or write in the language of the host country would be regarded by the locals as illiterate.

The stress in the distinction from "official culture" became more pronounced towards the end of the 19th century, [16] [ need quotation to verify ] a usage that became established by the interbellum period. [17] [ need quotation to verify ]

From the end of World War II, following major cultural and social changes brought by mass media innovations, the meaning of popular culture began to overlap with those of mass culture, media culture, image culture, consumer culture, and culture for mass consumption. [18] Social and cultural changes in the United States were a pioneer in this with respect to other western countries.[ citation needed ]

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Mass media refers to a diverse array of media technologies that reach a large audience via mass communication. The technologies through which this communication takes place include a variety of outlets.

In cultural studies, media culture refers to the current Western capitalist society that emerged and developed from the 20th century, under the influence of mass media. The term alludes to the overall impact and intellectual guidance exerted by the media, not only on public opinion but also on tastes and values.

The abbreviated form "pop" for popular, as in pop music, dates from the late 1950s. [19] Although terms "pop" and "popular" are in some cases used interchangeably, and their meaning partially overlap, the term "pop" is narrower. Pop is specific of something containing qualities of mass appeal, while "popular" refers to what has gained popularity, regardless of its style. [20] [21]

Pop music is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form in the United States and United Kingdom during the mid-1950s. The terms "popular music" and "pop music" are often used interchangeably, although the former describes all music that is popular and includes many diverse styles. "Pop" and "rock" were roughly synonymous terms until the late 1960s, when they became increasingly differentiated from each other.

According to author John Storey, there are various definitions of popular culture. [22] The quantitative definition of culture has the problem that much "high culture" (e.g., television dramatizations of Jane Austen) is also "popular." "Pop culture" is also defined as the culture that is "left over" when we have decided what high culture is. However, many works straddle the boundaries, e.g., William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens.

A third definition equates pop culture with "mass culture" and ideas. This is seen as a commercial culture, mass-produced for mass consumption by mass media. [23] From a Western European perspective, this may be compared to American culture.[ clarification needed ] Alternatively, "pop culture" can be defined as an "authentic" culture of the people, but this can be problematic as there are many ways of defining the "people."[ page needed ] Storey argued that there is a political dimension to popular culture; neo-Gramscian hegemony theory "... sees popular culture as a site of struggle between the 'resistance' of subordinate groups in society and the forces of 'incorporation' operating in the interests of dominant groups in society." A postmodernist approach to popular culture would "no longer recognize the distinction between high and popular culture."

Storey claims that popular culture emerged from the urbanization of the Industrial Revolution. Studies of Shakespeare (by Weimann, Barber, or Bristol, for example) locate much of the characteristic vitality of his drama in its participation in Renaissance popular culture, while contemporary practitioners like Dario Fo and John McGrath use popular culture in its Gramscian sense that includes ancient folk traditions (the commedia dell'arte for example). [24] [25] [ need quotation to verify ]

Popular culture is constantly evolving and occurs uniquely in place and time. It forms currents and eddies, and represents a complex of mutually interdependent perspectives and values that influence society and its institutions in various ways. For example, certain currents of pop culture may originate from, (or diverge into) a subculture, representing perspectives with which the mainstream popular culture has only limited familiarity. Items of popular culture most typically appeal to a broad spectrum of the public. Important contemporary contributions for understanding what popular culture means have been given by the German researcher Ronald Daus, who studies the impact of extra-European cultures in North America, Asia, and especially in Latin America.

Folklore

Adaptations based on traditional folklore provide a source of popular culture. [26] This early layer of cultural mainstream still persists today, in a form separate from mass-produced popular culture, propagating by word of mouth rather than via mass media, e.g. in the form of jokes or urban legend. With the widespread use of the Internet from the 1990s, the distinction between mass media and word-of-mouth has become blurred.

Although the folkloric element of popular culture engages heavily with the commercial element, the public has its own tastes and it may not always embrace every cultural or subcultural item sold. Moreover, beliefs and opinions about the products of commercial culture spread by word-of-mouth, and become modified in the process and in the same manner that folklore evolves.

Usage

Many people[ who? ] say that popular culture is a tool that higher ranking people in a society and elites (who often control mass media and popular culture outlets) use to control the people below them in society. It's also said that popular culture dulls the minds of the "common man", making them more passive and easier to control, although popular culture can also be used as a means of rebellion against the ways and culture of dominant subcultures. [27]

Sources

Sources of popular culture include:

Films

Films started massive popular culture. [29] [ not in citation given ]

Television programs

A television program is a segment of audiovisual content intended for broadcast (other than a commercial, trailer, or other content not serving as attraction for viewership).

Television programs may be fictional (as in comedies and dramas), or non-fictional (as in documentary, news and reality television). It may be topical (as in the case of a local newscast and some made-for-television movies), or historical (as in the case of many documentaries and fictional series). They can be primarily instructional or educational, or entertaining as is the case in situation comedy and game shows.[ citation needed ]

Music

Popular music is music with wide appeal [30] [31] that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and styles can be enjoyed and performed by people with little or no musical training. [30] It stands in contrast to both art music [32] [33] and traditional or "folk" music. Art music was historically disseminated through the performances of written music, although since the beginning of the recording industry, it is also disseminated through recordings. Traditional music forms such as early blues songs or hymns were passed along orally, or to smaller, local audiences. [32]

Sports

Sports include all forms of competitive physical activity or games which, [34] through casual or organised participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing enjoyment to participants, and in some cases, entertainment for spectators. [35]

Corporate branding

Corporate branding refers to the practice of promoting the brand name of a corporate entity, as opposed to specific products or services. [36]

Personal branding

Personal branding includes the use of social media to promotion to brands and topics to further good repute amongst professionals in a given field, produce a iconic relationship between a professional, a brand and its audience that extends networks past the conventional lines established by the mainstream and to enhance personal visibility.

See also

Notes

  1. McGaha, Julie. "Popular Culture & Globalization". Multicultural Education 23.1 (2015): 32–37. SocINDEX with Full Text. Web. 5 Aug. 2016.
  2. Strinati, D. (2004). An introduction to theories of popular culture. Routledge.
  3. Storey, J. (2018). Cultural theory and popular culture: An introduction. Routledge.
  4. "What Is Pop Culture? By Gary West".
  5. Darrell L. Bock and Daniel B. Nixon. "Darrell L. Bock & Daniel B. Wallace – Dethroning Jesus: Exposing Popular Culture's Quest to Unseat the Biblical Christ". Rebeccasreads.com. Archived from the original on 2009-05-14. Retrieved 2009-06-21.
  6. "Calvin College: Calvin News". Calvin.edu. 2001-03-15. Retrieved 2009-06-21.
  7. "7 Things From Pop Culture That Apparently Piss Jesus Off". Cracked.com. Retrieved 2009-06-21.
  8. "Book Review- Jesus Made in America – Irish Calvinist". Irishcalvinist.com. 2008-10-14. Archived from the original on 2009-02-06. Retrieved 2009-06-21.
  9. "Japan's increasingly superficial pop culture? | Bateszi Anime Blog". Bateszi.animeuknews.net. 2007-01-18. Archived from the original on 2009-02-28. Retrieved 2009-06-21.
  10. Although the Oxford English Dictionary lists the first use as 1854, it appears in an address by Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi in 1818: Pestalozzi, Johann Heinrich (1818). The Address of Pestalozzi to the British Public. I see that it is impossible to attain this end without founding the means of popular culture and instruction upon a basis which cannot be got at otherwise than in a profound examination of Man himself; without such an investigation and such a basis all is darkness.
  11. Per Adam Siljeström  [ sv ], The educational institutions of the United States, their character and organization, J. Chapman, 1853, p. 243: "Influence of European emigration on the state of civilization in the United States: Statistics of popular culture in America". John Morley presented an address On Popular Culture at the Birmingham Town Hall in 1876, dealing with the education of the lower classes.
  12. Rabelais and Bakhtin: Popular Culture in "Gargantua and Pantagruel" p.13
  13. Rabelais's Radical Farce p. 9
  14. "Penny dreadfuls: the Victorian equivalent of video games". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  15. Turner, E. S. (1975). Boys Will be Boys. Harmondsworth: Penguin. p. 20. ISBN   0-14-004116-8.
  16. "Learning is dishonored when she stoops to attract," cited in a section "Popular Culture and True Education" in University extension, Issue 4, The American society for the extension of university teaching, 1894.
  17. e.g. "the making of popular culture plays [in post-revolutionary Russian theater]", Huntly Carter, The new spirit in the Russian theatre, 1917–28: And a sketch of the Russian kinema and radio, 1919–28, showing the new communal relationship between the three, Ayer Publishing, 1929, p. 166.
  18. "one look at the sheer mass and volume of what we euphemistically call our popular culture suffices", from Winthrop Sargeant, 'In Defense of the High-Brow', an article from LIFE magazine, 11 April 1949, p. 102.
  19. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians , volume 15, p. 85 entry Pop music
  20. Steinem, Gloria. Outs of pop culture, in LIFE magazine, 20 August 1965, p. 73 quotation:
    Pop Culture-although big, mercurial, and slippery to define-is really an umbrella term that covers anything currently in fashion, all or most of whose ingredients are familiar to the public-at-large. The new dances are a perfect example... Pop Art itself may mean little to the average man, but its vocabulary...is always familiar.
  21. Bill Lamb, "What Is Pop Music? A Definition", About.com , retrieved 8 March 2012 quotation:
    It is tempting to confuse pop music with popular music. The New Grove Dictionary Of Music and Musicians , the musicologist's ultimate reference resource, identifies popular music as the music since industrialization in the 1800s that is most in line with the tastes and interests of the urban middle class. This would include an extremely wide range of music from vaudeville and minstrel shows to heavy metal. Pop music, on the other hand, has primarily come into usage to describe music that evolved out of the rock 'n roll revolution of the mid-1950s and continues in a definable path to today.
  22. John Storey. Cultural Theory and Popular Culture, pp. 4–8
  23. Sérgio Campos Gonçalves, “Cultura e Sociedade de Consumo: um olhar em retrospecto”, InRevista – Núcleo de Produção Científica em Comunicação – UNAERP (Ribeirão Preto), v. 3, pp. 18–28, 2008, ISSN   1980-6418.
  24. Robert Weimann  [ de ], Shakespeare and the Popular Tradition (1967)
  25. Robert Shaughnessy, The Cambridge companion to Shakespeare and popular culture (2007) p. 24
  26. On the Ambiguity of the Three Wise Monkeys A. W. Smith Folklore , Vol. 104, No. 1/2 (1993), pp. 144–150
  27. "How Did Pop Culture Originate?". ThoughtCo. Retrieved 2018-07-06.
  28. "Pop Culture: An Overview | Issue 64 | Philosophy Now". philosophynow.org. Retrieved 2018-07-06.
  29. "Film History". Greatest Films. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  30. 1 2 Popular Music. (2015). Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia
  31. "Definition of "popular music" | Collins English Dictionary". www.collinsdictionary.com. Retrieved 2015-11-15.
  32. 1 2 Arnold, Denis (1983). The New Oxford Companion Music, Volume 1: A–J. Oxford University Press. p. 111. ISBN   978-0-19-311316-9.
  33. Tagg, Philip (1982). "Analysing popular music: theory, method and practice". Popular Music. 2: 37. CiteSeerX   10.1.1.628.7469 . doi:10.1017/S0261143000001227.
  34. "Definition of sport". SportAccord. Archived from the original on 28 October 2011.
  35. Council of Europe. "The Europien sport charter" . Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  36. "Pop Culture: An Overview – Issue 64". Philosophy Now. Retrieved July 2, 2018.

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References

Further reading