• Created by: momonowa
  • Created on: 10-12-21 10:55

Intro to culture

A culture is the languages, beliefs, values, norms and more shared by a group. The dominant culture is accepted by the majority without much opposition, but subcultures can emerge.

Subcultures (like youth subcultures) can often be in active opposition to mass culture, and these are called subcultures of resistance - like punks, mods, and skinheads.

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Views on Mass Culture

Marxist argue social control is for hegemony. Dominant culture reflects the interests of the ruling/dominant class.

  • Bourdieu (1971):

    high culture is allegedly superior, the rich set the trends (what is good and not), and everyone else is socialised to accept this superiority but they will participate in ‘low’ culture

  • MacDonald (1965):

    folk is authentic / high is serious and authentic values / mass is trivial and inauthentic

  • Marcuse (1965):

    entertainment is social repression through passivity and conformity

Postmodernists argue mass culture is diverse.

  • Strinati (1995):

    mass culture is valuable, diverse, and critical

  • Livingstone (1988):

    TV soaps have benefits; educating, political range, generating discussion, providing insight to perspectives (this gives the controversy that leads to discussion) think tea spill channels!

Feminists argue dominant culture is patriarchal and reflects the control of men.

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Views on globalisation

3 things that have lead to globalisation include:

1. Tourism
2. Internet
3. Division of labour

  • [Flew (2002):

    new media tech - TV, internet] & digitisation of culture (music and art)

Globalisation’s positive effects on the UK include:

1. Fame for stars

2. Merchandising success

3. English language’s world dominance

Cultural homogenisation is the idea of cultures merging as they become more alike and eventually uniform. This has been due to the worldwide marketing of global products like films, music, and food, often defining an individual culture but now defining one homogenous culture.

  • Ritzer (2013):

    brands promoting a global standardised culture weakens local culture, like buying from Starbucks instead of the local coffee shop, leading local business to close. Technology’s Influence

  • Flew (2002):

    new media tech - TV, internet & digitisation of culture (music and art)

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The blurring lines between high and pop culture

Postmodernist Strinati and others argue the distinction between high culture and popular culture is weakening.

Mass communication technology like the internet, music downloads, cable … make a range of cultural products available to be consumed by the masses without the need to visit specialised institutions like art galleries.

The Tate Modern in London now attracts visitors from diverse backgrounds; live opera is available to the masses.

Marxists say high culture has become commercialised.

High culture has been forced to become a commodity for sale to the lower classes.

Elements of high culture have become adopted by pop culture, and vice versa, and so Strinati argues there is no agreement on distinction between the two.

  • Storey (2003):

    another change is members of the dominant class are consuming more than high culture, and the masses consume high culture through mass production. An example being Banksy’s street art that would be seen as mass culture but sell for thousands to the higher classes.

Andy Warhol painted Mona Lisa 30 times to show ‘thirty was better than one’ and turning high culture into pop culture.

Giddings (2010) from a postmodernist perspective says high culture art is often being turned into products for sale and now art is no longer special.

He said the borders between the two cultures are like those between countries - “only there because we are told they are there, and people will always disagree on where these borders lie, whether they should be acknowledged at all, or who has the right to move them”.

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