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PCUL 1F92 Lecture Notes - Working Class Culture, Upper Class, Commodification

Popular Culture
Course Code
Scott Henderson

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October 2, 2012
Culture and civilization
The emergence of popular culture debates
Culture and civilization:
- Emerged in the middle of the 19th century
- Particularly in the writing of Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)
- Culture and anarchy (1869)
Never used the term ‘popular culture’
Instead defines “culture” against “anarchy”
“the whole scope of this essay is to recommend culture as the great help out of our present
He defines cultures as “the best that has been thought and said in the world”
Working class:
- Arnold: “the strong feudal habits of subordination and deference” have been dissolved “the
anarchical tendency of our worship of freedom
- William Hogarth “beer street and gin lane
In support of the gin act and suggesting beer as a better alternative
- Arnold refers to working class culture as “raw and uncultivated
- Calls them “those vast, miserable, unmanageable masses of sunken people”
Arnold’s ‘divisions’:
Upper class barbarians (elite)
Philistines middle class (concerns with emerging middle class, needed to know their plac but needed
to follow the elites model for society to function, education was key)
Populace working class (still the biggest one)
Middle class:
- Emergence tied to social and cultural changes of 19th century
- Rise in mechanization
- Rise in leisure industries and entrepreneurship
- Increase in education
- Not tied to physicality and manual labour of working class
Where does popular culture fit in?:
- In Arnolds case its culture that emerges from the people is one definition at the time
- Increasingly tied up with what is bought and sold- the increased emergence of consumer goods
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- Those aimed at emerging working class may attract middle class away from true culture (hence
our use of the ‘philistine’ for someone who may be perceived as uncultured)
- Arnold is concerned with emerging political power and protests of the working class
- He is concerned with the rising suffragette movement women wanting to vote
- Arnold refers to protests in his writing as ‘bawling’
- Worried that those without proper ‘culture’ could come to dominate based on numbers
Regulation of pastime:
- Longer running concerns with pastimes of the lower class
- Outlines in out textbooks on reference to studies by Robert Malcomson
Attempts to regulate or ban activities that were seen as brutal or less civilized
- Often tied to manual nature of jobs and lives
- Include blood sports, fairs and carnivals, sports (such as football/soccer)
- Seen as corrupting morals particularly in relation to displays of violence and cruelty, or sexual
- Sports in the 19th century saw an increase in formalizing and regulating
- Often brought about by the elite as ‘pastimes’ because more organized
Football (soccer) in Britain:
- From free for all, violent sport
- Gradual development of set of rules
- Also a formation of formal ‘clubs’
- In 1862 rules were adopted at Cambridge university
- In 1863 Football Association is formed to officially create rules and to organize competitions
- Those who are in charge are drawn from elite class
- Thomas Arnold, father of Matthew, is headmaster at elite school Rugby establishes different
rules for game (now called Rugby)
Hockey in Canada:
- Informal, often seen as a violet pastime (often played by soldiers)
- Codification of rules, games work toward controlling the violence
- Used to be flights between fans, between players, and between players and fans
- Earliest organized game in 1875
- Standard rules adopted by students at McGill in 1879
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