SOC202 09 17 2010.docx

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12 Apr 2012
Department
Course
SOC202 04/11/2012
What is popular culture?
Culture
1) Capital “C” culture
- big “C” culture … what is not accessible to the masses
- based on the distant past … traditions that have been followed for generations
- cannot be represented by what we do in the present
- Ballets, operas, Shakespeare
2) Way of Life
- way of life; everyday events and practices
- what people do and what they attach to those activities that constitute to culture
- Coffee, school, smoking
- Both types of culture tries to ignore mass media, believes they act as a corrupting force
believes the mass media taints the true definition/idea of culture
- Believe mass media is all about the money capitalism
Mass media as a corrupting force
- Mass media always out to make a profit
o Attracts mass audiences, therefore more profit
- Corrupts/taints culture
Popular
1) Quantity
- people, rating, numbers
- market-driven popular culture
- what makes money, what gets people watching
- Money earned by celebrities, ratings of shows/movies,
2) Of the People
- determines the value of the products sold
- comes from the grass roots
Popular Culture: General Themes (Quantity)
- Every dollar Matt Damon earned, corporation earned $29 back 2007
- 2008 Vince Vaughan made Hollywood Studios 14
- LeBouf made $160 in 2009 (Transformers) made so much because they didn’t pay LeBouf
that much to start with … also, huge audience base for Transformers
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Ratings (Quality)
- Most watched in Canada are within the same time frame, basic cable, American programs
- Some Canadian programs can’t really afford the popular time slots
Three main components of popular culture
1) consumption and production
- What we watch, listen to, purchase, habitually participate in, eat often and how they are
produced, accessed, resources used
2) folk culture (identifiable) and mass culture (unidentifiable)
- Folk: traditional practices passed down from generation to generation that have an
identifiable audience
- Mass: produced for the largest possible audience a.k.a. the unidentifiable audience
- Traditionally, both had different goals … Folk had a traditional value, Mass tends to
associate trends with an economic value
3) Power
- Associated with 1 & 2, ability to produce, purchase, or access culture and the influence
one obtains in the process
- Everyone has the ability to exercise their power
o E.g. what kind of power do you have owning an iPod? Listen to whatever music
you want to listen to, wherever you are, whenever you want … identity brand – a
sense of belonging
o E.g. what kind of power do you have/lack in not owning an iPod decision
making, choosing to be different, power to resist the influence … “Do I really need
an iPod?”, the power to start one’s own trend
Political Economy and Cultural Studies
“…the study of the social relations, particularly the power relations, that mutually constitute the
production, distribution, and consumption of resources” (Mosco, 1996, p. 25)
Ownership and control:
a) within the mass media
- Patterns of media ownership and control
- How these patterns influence content and the consumption choices of the audience
- Audience often thinks that we make our own choices… but choices are often influenced by
popular culture
b) beyond the mass media
- Patterns outside of the media sphere; the relationship shared between…
o art galleries, museums, theatres, community organizations
- Things outside the mass media that still has power to influence our choices
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