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Culture and Globalisation
Mass Media and Mass Culture
Mass Culture: Contemporary culture as the product of capitalism, mass production and the mass media.
Term used in a negative way to describe cultural tastes of the working class. Characterised by low standards
& consumed by passive uncritical audience.
High Culture: Associated with the tastes of the wealthy and educated; cultural tastes of the elite e.g. opera,
literature, fine arts. Considered superior to other forms of culture.
Folk Culture: Was produced by and for the people and grew out of their everyday experiences. Folk tales &
folk music etc. associated with Lower Classes.
Popular culture: The view that contemporary culture is the product of interaction between mass culture
and other cultural forms e.g. high culture and folk culture. Cultural forms enjoyed by many people.
Mass Culture Theory
There used to be distinct cultures based on different life experiences of different social groups. Differences
include different values, norms & beliefs as well as in music, literature & art. Now Folk & Elite culture
largely encompassed by mass culture (e.g. paintings turned into posters and t-shirts, folk music
transformed into pop music). Those who argue a mass culture has developed (via mass media & mass
consumerism) are highly critical of it.
Right-Wing Critics (aka Elite theorists) Elliot and Leavis see mass culture as threatening high culture.
Believe high culture incorporates finest artistic endeavour and superior values and morality providing
positive example to lower social classes. Mass culture represents dumbing down of culture.
Left-wing Critics share some of the right-wing opinions. Neo-Marxist Frankfurt School developed critical
theory arguing capitalism imposes culture on the masses & creates illusion of choice in reality mass
culture manipulative ideology where consumerism and conformity replaces consciousness.
Marcuse Sees mass culture as reducing people to uncritical, passive consumers with mixture of
consumerism and crass entertainment.
Encourages consumerism, greed and selfishness. Traditional working-class values (loyalty,
solidarity, cooperation) are undermined & pro capitalist values (competition & selfishness) are encouraged.
Consumerism becomes the meaning of life & people become more isolated and indoctrinated making
them easier to control and easier for ruling class to maintain ideological domination (hegemony)
Argue media has become more diverse like society offering greater variety and choice. All cultures, even
from around the world, are available to everyone e.g. fine art and classical music available to everyone due
to mass production.
Gans Emphasises cultural choices available to people today due to mass media.
Argues media provides us with cultural artefacts from many times and places allowing us to create our own
identities via consumer choices no longer bound by our social backgrounds.
Lyotard class, gender, age & ethnicity no longer main determinants of identity.
Study: Michael Batkhin argues many media forms undermine the capitalist system. Films like `Borat' &
cartoons like `The Simpsons' & `South Park' are politically incorrect and ridicule our `social betters'.
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Internet & related technologies has allowed people to produce their own culture in form of blogs, websites
and films demonstrates desire of people to be active participants in creation of their culture.
The opposing theories see contemporary culture in different ways. Mass theorists see today's culture as
product of big business & the media consumed by masses in passive and uncritical manner.…read more
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Media corporations play major role in this dominance of global economic system. They are among richest &
most powerful of these organisations & are dominant force in distribution of information & advertising. 9
of top 10 media companies based in US.
- In Marxist terms, capitalist corporations control means of production and mental means
of production throughout world (i.e.…read more
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The Internet and Globalisation
Public Sphere: a real or virtual place where people come together as equal participants in democratic
Transnationalisation (esp. growth of internet) has led to idea of a new world where free exchange of info
and ideas will produce worldwide democracy.
-Giddens: argues fall of communist bloc in Eastern Europe was partly due to citizens gaining info
about standards and lifestyles in the west.…read more