Media, globalisation and popular culture

  • Created by: Joanna R
  • Created on: 20-03-17 18:18


Definition - the way cultures in different countries have become more alike.

Traditional societies are exposed to modern technologies such as smart phones and modern ideas such as democracy and equality.

Modern societies are still influenced by traditional values like religion.

Flew proposes that new media technologies have been an important role in the development of global popular culture.

Companies like McDonalds and Sony are symbols that are recognised globally.

Ritzer explains that McDonalds have 26,500 restaurants in more than 119 countries (2007). Pizza Hut in 100 and Subway in 72. TV companies sell their companies as well, Big Brother and Who wants to be a millionaire is shown and hosted in 106 countries.

There are many US and UK singer known globally for example Adele. 

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High culture

Definition - what the elite regard as high intellectual achievements in areas such as art, literature and poetry.

The importance of high culture can be assessed by examining British mass media. There are TV channels and newspaper articles focused exclusively on art exhibitions, reviews of classical music concerts for example. Television denotes considerable amount of time to high culture; BBC2 and Sky Arts.

Folk culture are the traditions and rituals of societies that have been passed down generation by word of mouth. For example, in the UK, Bonfire night. Folk culture is considered authentic because it reflects everyday life. There is evidence that folk culture is becoming globalised because tourists want to see traditional dances and songs in the countries they are visiting.

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Popular culture

Also known as Mass culture.

Definition - the products of mass media in modern capitalist societies. Like TV programmes, films and popular music that are enjoyed by the majority of the population. 

Some sociologists believe that this type of culture is manufactured for mass consumption. Rather than for its own sake : entertainment.

Barnett and Seymour - describe popular culture as a "superficial candyfloss culture" that has resulted in the dumbing down of intelligence, critical thinking and creativity.

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Globalisation of popular culture

Entertainment has become globalised through satellite television, computer technology, films, music and the internet. This results into a large section of the world's population engaging in the same popular culture. So same films, television programmes etc.

Some sociologists suggest that the globalisation of culture has led to its homogenisation. This is when there is a reduction in cultural diversity because of the abandoning of folk cultures in favour of a global popular culture.

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Effects of globalisation on popular culture (1)


The mass media has played a big role in the movement of a society being modern to post-modern. The rapid expansion in media technologies between 2005 and 2015 has led to postmodern societies being more 'media-saturated'. This is where the media and popular culture influences personal identity and lifestyle instead of traditional influences such as family, community and nation.

Mass media and identity - the media has changed and shaped consumption patterns by making consumers more aware of the diversity of choices that exist in the modern world. Strinati argues that in a post-modern world; the distinction between high culture and popular culture has become blurred. And this increases consumer choice.

Media saturation, the rejection of meta-narratives and the relativity of knowledge - people today are disillusioned with philosophical and meta-narratives about the way society works or should work. A media saturated society produces a modern media-literate audience that is aware that there is no such thing as an absolute truth and that knowledge is underpinned by diversity, plurality and difference. This media-led way of looking at the world has produced a more critical and participatory global culture.

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Effects of globalisation on popular culture (2)

Participatory culture

Definition - the involvement of users, audiences, consumers and fans in the creation of culture and content.

This can include making a YouTube video or contributing to Wikipedia. 

Jenkins argues that global culture and society has become more democratic because users and audiences are able to produce culture themselves. 

For example; Facebook has resulted in the wiring of humanity and free time and has become a shared global resource.

He also argues that participatory culture creates new forms of community because those involved feel connected to each other.

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Effects of globalisation on popular culture (3)

The globalisation of media and popular protest - Murthy investigated the impact of Twitter and concluded that global media sites such as twitter can help increase political awareness of issues like human right abuses and thus help coordinate a mass political response to this issue. 

He concluded that Twitter has the potential to shape many aspects of people's social, political and economic lives.

Spencer-Thomas observed that mass anti-government demonstrations in Burma failed to receive much media attention because of the military regime that banned overseas journalists. (1998) Whereas in (2007), they received more global attention because the Burmese people had access to new media technology.

Effect of global media on local cultures - Thompson argues that the globalisation of communication has become so intensive that all consumers of the global media are both citizens of the world and their locality. However, he argues that global media products are often domesticated by local folk cultures therefore a hybridised media culture is created. A hybridised media culture is one with mixed values etc. Local culture adapts to global culture.

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Critique of postmodernist perspective

Exaggerate the degree of social changes that associate with global media and popular culture. There is evidence from attitude surveys that conclude that many people still see class, family and ethnicity as having more of an influence over their lives than global media or culture has.

Unrealistic because they ignore the fact that a substantial number of people are unable to make consumption choices because of inequalities brought through traditional influences such as unemployment and poverty.

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Cultural Imperialism

Argues against the globalisation of media and popular culture.

Very influenced by Marxism.

There is no such thing as a popular/mass culture. It is just a distraction to poorer groups from the exploitation and inequality. It encourages conformity and a lack of critical thinking especially about capitalism. Marcuse claimed that conformity is the product of media audiences being encouraged by media companies to subscribe to 3 ways of thinking and behaving.

1) Commodity fetishism - the products of popular culture have special powers that somehow enhance the life of the user. 2) False needs - consumers need to have a particular product because of marketing, advertising and branding. 3) Conspicuous consumption - particular products that are generated by the media as having more status than other items. For example, certain brands are credited with more status than others.

Adorno and Marcuse argue that the role of the global mass media is to indoctrinate global consumers into capitalist ideology and to produce a homogenised culture that promotes capitalist views therefore producing a false consciousness.

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Critique of cultural imperialism

Suggests that the flow of culture is one-way-only (from West to developed world). Ignores 'reverse cultural flows' whereby western culture is enriched by inputs from the popular culture of other societies. These flows are likely to produce hydridisation as people in both the West and the developing world select what they want from the popular culture and adapt it to local culture or needs.

Underestimate the strength and richness of local cultures. For example, young people in developing countries may enjoy aspects of American culture but this does not mean they are going to abandon their national identities.

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