Popular culture

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"Pop Culture" redirects here. Popular culture_sentence_0

For the Madeon song, see Pop Culture (song). Popular culture_sentence_1

Popular culture (also called mass culture and pop culture) is generally recognized by members of a society as a set of the practices, beliefs, and objects that are dominant or prevalent in a society at a given point in time. Popular culture_sentence_2

Popular culture also encompasses the activities and feelings produced as a result of interaction with these dominant objects. Popular culture_sentence_3

Heavily influenced in modern times by mass media, this collection of ideas permeates the everyday lives of people in a given society. Popular culture_sentence_4

Therefore, popular culture has a way of influencing an individual's attitudes towards certain topics. Popular culture_sentence_5

However, there are various ways to define pop culture. Popular culture_sentence_6

Because of this, popular culture is something that can be defined in a variety of conflicting ways by different people across different contexts. Popular culture_sentence_7

It is generally viewed in contrast to other forms of culture such as folk cults, working-class culture, or high culture, and also through different high praised perspectives such as psychoanalysis, structuralism, postmodernism, and more. Popular culture_sentence_8

The most common pop-culture categories are: entertainment (such as film, music, television and video games), sports, news (as in people/places in the news), politics, fashion, technology, and slang. Popular culture_sentence_9

Popular culture in the West has been critiqued for its being a system of commercialism that privileges products selected and mass-marketed by the upper-class capitalist elite; such criticisms are most notable in many Marxist theorists such as Marcuse, Adorno, Horkheimer, Gramsci, Debord, Jameson, Eagleton, as well as certain postmodern philosophers such as Lyotard, who has written about the commercialisation of information under capitalism, and Baudrillard, as well as others. Popular culture_sentence_10

History Popular culture_section_0

See also: Cultural history Popular culture_sentence_11

The term "popular culture" was coined in the 19th century or earlier. Popular culture_sentence_12

Traditionally, popular culture was associated with poor education and with the lower classes, as opposed to the "official culture" and higher education of the upper classes. Popular culture_sentence_13

Victorian-era With the rise of the Industrial Revolution in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Britain experienced social changes that resulted in increased literacy rates, and with the rise of capitalism and industrialization, people began to spend more money on entertainment, like the commercial idea of pubs and sports. Popular culture_sentence_14

Reading also gained traction. Popular culture_sentence_15

Labelling penny dreadfuls the Victorian equivalent of video games, The Guardian in 2016 described penny fiction as "Britain's first taste of mass-produced popular culture for the young". Popular culture_sentence_16

A growing consumer culture and an increased capacity for travel via the newly invented 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 its distribution on a large scale. Popular culture_sentence_17

The first penny serials were published in the 1830s to meet the growing demand. Popular culture_sentence_18

The stress in the distinction from "official culture" became more pronounced towards the end of the 19th century, a usage that became established by the interbellum period. Popular culture_sentence_19

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. Popular culture_sentence_20

The abbreviated form "pop" for popular, as in pop music, dates from the late 1950s. Popular culture_sentence_21

Although terms "pop" and "popular" are in some cases used interchangeably, and their meaning partially overlap, the term "pop" is narrower. Popular culture_sentence_22

Pop is specific of something containing qualities of mass appeal, while "popular" refers to what has gained popularity, regardless of its style. Popular culture_sentence_23

Definition Popular culture_section_1

According to author John Storey, there are various definitions of popular culture. Popular culture_sentence_24

The quantitative definition of culture has the problem that much "high culture" (e.g., television dramatizations of Jane Austen) is also "popular." Popular culture_sentence_25

"Pop culture" is also defined as the culture that is "leftover" when we have decided what high culture is. Popular culture_sentence_26

However, many works straddle the boundaries, e.g., William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy, and George Orwell. Popular culture_sentence_27

A third definition equates pop culture with "mass culture" and ideas. Popular culture_sentence_28

This is seen as a commercial culture, mass-produced for mass consumption by mass media. Popular culture_sentence_29

From a Western European perspective, this may be compared to American culture. Popular culture_sentence_30

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." Popular culture_sentence_31

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." Popular culture_sentence_32

A postmodernist approach to popular culture would "no longer recognize the distinction between high and popular culture." Popular culture_sentence_33

Baudrillard argued that the vague conception “Public Opinion” is a subjective and inaccurate illusion which is more complicit in populism rather than in factuality, for it attributes a sovereignty to consumers that they do not really possess. Popular culture_sentence_34

Storey claims that popular culture emerged from the urbanization of the Industrial Revolution. Popular culture_sentence_35

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). Popular culture_sentence_36

Popular culture is constantly evolving and occurs uniquely in place and time. Popular culture_sentence_37

It forms currents and eddies, and represents a complex of mutually interdependent perspectives and values that influence society and its institutions in various ways. Popular culture_sentence_38

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. Popular culture_sentence_39

Items of popular culture most typically appeal to a broad spectrum of the public. Popular culture_sentence_40

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. Popular culture_sentence_41

Levels Popular culture_section_2

Within the realm of popular culture, there exists an organizational culture. Popular culture_sentence_42

From its beginning, popular culture has revolved around classes in society and the push-back between them. Popular culture_sentence_43

Within popular culture, there are three levels that have emerged, high and low. Popular culture_sentence_44

High culture can be described as art and works considered of superior value, historically, aesthetically and socially. Popular culture_sentence_45

Low culture is regarded by some as that of the lower classes, historically. Popular culture_sentence_46

Folklore Popular culture_section_3

Adaptations based on traditional folklore provide a source of popular culture. Popular culture_sentence_47

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 legends. Popular culture_sentence_48

With the widespread use of the Internet from the 1990s, the distinction between mass media and word-of-mouth has become blurred. Popular culture_sentence_49

Although the folkloric element of popular culture engages heavily with the commercial element, communities amongst the public have their own tastes and they may not always embrace every cultural or subcultural item sold. Popular culture_sentence_50

Moreover, certain beliefs and opinions about the products of commercial culture may spread by word-of-mouth, and become modified in the process and in the same manner that folklore evolves. Popular culture_sentence_51

Criticism Popular culture_section_4

The Culture Industry Popular culture_section_5

The most influential critiques of popular culture came from Marxist theorists of the Frankfurt School during the twentieth century. Popular culture_sentence_52

Adorno and Horkheimer analysed the dangers of the culture industry in their influential work the Dialectic of Enlightenment by drawing upon the works of Kant, Marx, Nietzsche and others. Popular culture_sentence_53

Capitalist popular culture, as Adorno argued, was not an authentic culture of the people but a system of homogenous and standardised artworks produced in the service of capitalist domination by the elite. Popular culture_sentence_54

The consumer demand for Hollywood films, pop tunes and consumable books is encouraged by the hegemony of the corporate elite who control the media and the corporations. Popular culture_sentence_55

Adorno wrote, “The industry bows to the vote it has itself rigged”. Popular culture_sentence_56

It is the elite who commodify products in accordance with their narrow ideological values and criteria, and Adorno argues that the audience becomes accustomed to these formulaic conventions, making intellectual contemplation impossible. Popular culture_sentence_57

Adorno's work has had a considerable influence on culture studies, philosophy and the New Left. Popular culture_sentence_58

Writing in the New Yorker in 2014, music critic Alex Ross, argued that Adorno's work has a renewed importance in the digital age: "The pop hegemony is all but complete, its superstars dominating the media and wielding the economic might of tycoons...Culture appears more monolithic than ever, with a few gigantic corporations—Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon—presiding over unprecedented monopolies. Popular culture_sentence_59

". Popular culture_sentence_60

Scholar Jack Zipes critiqued the mass commercialisation and corporate hegemony behind the Harry Potter franchise. Popular culture_sentence_61

He argued that the commodities of the culture industry are “popular” because they are homogenous and obey standard conventions; the media then influences the tastes of children. Popular culture_sentence_62

In his analysis of Harry Potter's global brand, Zipes wrote, “It must conform to the standards of exception set by the mass media and promoted by the culture industry in general. Popular culture_sentence_63

To be a phenomenon means that a person or commodity must conform to the hegemonic groups that determine what makes up a phenomenon ”. Popular culture_sentence_64

Imperialism Popular culture_section_6

According to John M. MacKenzie, many products of popular culture have been designed to promote imperialist ideologies and to glorify the British upper classes rather than present a democratic view of the world. Popular culture_sentence_65

Although there are many films which do not contain such propaganda, there have been many films that promote racism and militarist imperialism. Popular culture_sentence_66

Propaganda Popular culture_section_7

Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky critiqued the mass media in their 1988 work Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. Popular culture_sentence_67

They argue that mass media is controlled by a powerful hegemonic elite who are motivated by their own interests that determine and manipulate what information is present in the mainstream. Popular culture_sentence_68

The mass media is therefore a system of propaganda. Popular culture_sentence_69

Consumerism Popular culture_section_8

According to the postmodern sociologist Baudrillard, the individual is trained into the duty of seeking the relentless maximisation of pleasure lest he or she become asocial. Popular culture_sentence_70

Therefore, “enjoyment” and “fun” become indistinguishable from the need to consume. Popular culture_sentence_71

Whereas the Frankfurt School believed consumers were passive, Baudrillard argued that consumers were trained to consume products in a form of active labour in order to achieve upward social mobility. Popular culture_sentence_72

Thus, consumers under capitalism are trained to purchase products such as pop albums and consumable fiction in order to signal their devotion to social trends, fashions and subcultures. Popular culture_sentence_73

Although the consumption may arise from an active choice, the choice is still the consequence of a social conditioning which the individual is unconscious of. Popular culture_sentence_74

Baudrillard says, “One is permanently governed by a code whose rules and meaning-constraints — like those of language — are, for the most part, beyond the grasp of individuals”. Popular culture_sentence_75

In Baudrillard's understanding, the products of capitalist popular culture can only give the illusion of rebellion, since they are still complicit in a system controlled by the powerful. Popular culture_sentence_76

Baudrillard stated in an interview, critiquing the content and production of The Matrix: Popular culture_sentence_77


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular culture.