culture

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  • culture
    • polysemic
      • this means it means lots of different things
      • meaning is constantly shifting, so that culture is not something we can objectify, not something that is outside the shifting lives of human beings
      • culture might simply be seen as a way of referring to the differences in the ways in which humans make meanings.
    • anthropological definition
      • a way of life
        • Refers to beliefs, attitudes, and practices that are shared by a particular group
          • tempting to presuppose that cultures are neatly divided up into separate units, 
            • “cultures” are constantly borrowing, blending and hybridizing. Cultures, in short, are not “pure”.
      • however there are lots of different definitions within anthroplogy
    • Williams
      • followed through the development of the term culture, noting that it has been used variously to refer to self-development, to the arts, and to the broader notion of a “way of life”. 
      • at times frustrated by the complexity of the word culture, its ambiguity and imprecision.
    • Stuart Hall
      • a set of “signifying practices”, 
        • Through which particular signs are given conventional meanings shared by members of a particular group
        • here signifying practices are interdependent
          • we only know what something is though reference to what it is not.
            • eg male is not female
    • Clifford Geertz 
      • previously seen culture as being made up of “webs of significance”
        • similar to Hall
        • From this perspective, the cultural analyst’s job is one of interpretation
    • distinctions within modern societies. Marker of status
      • high culture
        • related to art
          • modernist painting, like Picasso’s cubism, modernist novels like Joyce’s Ulysses, or Schonberg’s music 
          • traditional cultural landmarks like Shakespeare
          • The whole tradition of European classical music
        • shared by a cultural elite.
        • Enjoying high culture can also be seen as part of having a good education, thereby distinguishing oneself again from the mass
      • popular culture
        • the spontaneous cultural practices of the “people” 
          • said going to the pub on Friday night and having a lot to drink, followed by a curry and football on Saturday.
        • some forms of popular culture come to be seen as high culture over time
          • jazz, was low status music when it began, but has since come to be seen as an expression of high culture.
            • an example of the fact that one does not have to have a good education or be from the elites to produce extremely sophisticated art.
      • mass culture
        • refers to the products of the “culture industry”, as Adorno and Horkheimer called it. 
          • mass produced, “hyped” music like Beyoncé, Adele or One Direction, or mainstream Hollywood cinema
            • This kind of cultural production is very much tied up with making money.

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