Theories of Culture

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  • Created by: Laura
  • Created on: 01-05-13 21:02
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  • Theories of culture
    • Cultural decline approaches suggests everything is getting worse
      • High culture is refined and improves it's audience as people
      • Low culture has bad values. It encourages swearing, violence, uncouth behaviour and general lack of respect
      • Society  gets worse because almost nobody is exposed to high culture and almost everyone is exposed low culture
      • As society gets worse, low culture gets even worse in response and in turn brings society down even further
    • Marxism says that the working class are oppressed by capitalism via culture. Some examples of the Frankfurt school were:
      • Hollywood films that distract ordinary people from social issues, giving them false dreams of glamour and adventure
      • Newspaper horoscopes which suggest  that a person's life experiences were down to luck or fate, rather than social structures or personal actions
      • TV and radio advertising that reinforces the values of capitalism
    • Marxists said capitalism creates false needs and commodity fetishism
      • Mass culture is used to dull the minds of the working class
      • Mass culture promotes capitalist ideology
      • Commodity fetishism ('must have' objects') encourages economic activity
      • The population are passive victims of mass culture
    • Not all Marxists agree with Frankfurt School
      • Antonio Gramsci said a single mass culture was too simplistic
      • Gramsci (1971) - capitalism creates dominant culture (dominance hegemony)
      • By allowing some opposition to exist, functionalism creates the illusion of a fair and free system
    • Feminism links popular culture to socialisation and Patriarchy
      • Ferguson (1983), McRobbie (1978) - magazines promote traditional female roles
      • Dworkin's study of pornography - images of women in pop culture encourage and justify violence against women
      • Popular culture representation of women can be empowering e.g. Camille Paglia writing about Madonna as a strong female role model


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