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Lecture 3

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Communication Studies
Baxter Moore

COMM2P20 Lecture3 September26th,2012 TheoriesofMassCultureRevised - Last week, intorduced four political or ideological positions on pop culture - In particular, the conservative elitists and radical elitists (compare and contrast) - Believe that popular culture is holding back high culture, - Conservative elitists, otherwise “culture and civilization” tradition - Veneration of high culture - Romanticization of folk culture - Demonization of popular culture Whatishighculture? - “The best that has been thought and said in the world” (Matthew Arnold, cited by Storey) - “The case for an elite… culture is tranditionally made on the basis of the moral seriousness and aestheric merit of a selected canon of texts. This is thought the embody the qualities of a particular national culture or to express universal artisitic and civilized values” (Peter Brooker, A Glossary of Cultural Theory, p. 86) - “High culture… refers not only to the art, music, literature, and other sybolic products that were (and are) preferred by the well-educated elite… but also to the styles of thoughts and feelings of those who choose these products - those who are ‘cultured’. Mass culture, on the other hand refers to the symbolic products used by the ‘uncultured’ majority.” (Herbert Gans, Popular Culture and High Culture, p. 10) - Problem of distinguishing between culture and class - Culture - Class - isn’t just dependant on income, also dependant on lifestyle (including preferences to cultural products) - Whatishighculture? - For contemporary students, especially in North America, the problem of class and culture - For example, most people in the OC may seem rich, but they are not part of the elite (Arnold’s aristrocraxcy), nor would they be converant with high (elite) culture - For Arnold, they would be philistines, part of the new industrial/ commercial bourgeoisie; they have money but no taste (no class) - Relationships among wealth/ income, class and culture a recurring theme in theories of pop culture MarxistTheoriesofPopularCulture - Classical Marxism - Marxism & Art: William Morris - Gransci & Hegemony - Althusser & Ideology - The Frankfurt School & the Culture Industry (Radical Elitists) - Neo & Post-Marxist theories - Overview ClassicalMarxism - Following the thought of Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Frederick (Friedrich) Engles (1820- 1895) - Culture is part of the “superstructure” of society - Superstructure, and hence culture, is powefully influenced by the ‘base’ - the forces and relations of production (the economic system and the class structure) - Superstrucutre (including culture) both expresses and legitimizes the base - i.e. Culture, including popylar culture, largely determined by capitalist mode of production (see Base and Superstructure diagram from review) - Base - relations of production (class structure). Forces of production (economic system) - on botthom - Superstructure - politics, ideology, law, religion, culture) KeyConceptsinMarxistAnalysis - Class: determined largely, but not exclusively, by one’s relationship to the means of productions - Two principal, antagonistic, classes under capitalism: bourgeoisie(capitalists) own or control the means of production; proletariat (workers) sell their labour the capitalists. Other classes are residual/ temporary. - Commodification: transformation of use value into exchange value = something that is bought and sold - Thestate(government + (includes all of the political institutions, administrative institutions, instruments of cohesion - police etc)) rules on behalf, or at the behest (doing what they tell you), of the bourgeoisie (capitalists class) - Art & culture? Marxism&Art:williamMorris - Marx neglected culture and art - William Morris (English textile designer, artist, writer, socialist, 1834-1896) - Morris argued that ‘creative labour (art?) is part of what makes us human - But capitalist division of labour (“Fordism”) provides little opportunity for creative labour - Culture is produced by specialists; most people can only consume, not produce, art. - Distinction between culture (art) and popular culture is a product of capitalism (specialization) - Culture is what we produce - Popular culture is what we consume - Morris advocated a socialist society in which all would have opportunity to be creative and thus produce art - In News From Nowhere (1890), Morris envisions a utopian socialist society in which “art as a separate category has disappeared, as art and culture are fully integrated into the culture of everyday life” (Storey, 63) - See also Marx quote, cited in Storey, 63 - The idea that one can do a bunch of different things throughout the day without ever doing one of those things full time GramsciandHegemony - Theory developed by Italian social theorist Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) to account for apparent willingness of working class to accept oppression under capitalism - Hegemony is the intellectual and moral leadership exercised by the dominant class which allows it to rule by making its ideas acceptable to the masses as the “common sense” of society as a whole -
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