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Lecture 2

COMS 401 Lecture 2: Culture & Counterculture

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University of Calgary
Communications Studies
COMS 401
Rhon Teruelle

Lecture 2: Culture & Counterculture Bloomsburg Dictionary of English Literature • Culture = one of the most difficult words in the modern critical vocabulary • Used in 2, broad senses • Fist, it indicates a group of products or personal acquisitions or activities which are deemed to be of considerable value or status in a society • The other refers to the activities of a particular way of life Five Different Usages of the Word 1. Culture is distinguished from ignorance or crudeness when a person becomes ‘cultivated’ 2. Culture is opposed to the worlds of work & money, & is therefore associated with recreation, fine living or higher values 3. Culture is opposed to popular or ‘mass’ forms of activity 4. Culture refers to the special province of human creativity 5. Marxist-influenced theory pictures culture negatively. In this line of thinking, it is associated with ideology, and its function is to shackle human thought & imagination in the interests of the status quo Teruelle (2017) • Culture is a set of beliefs, ideologies, understanding, and/or a way of life that is shared & enacted by a group of individuals • Counterculture is a set of beliefs, ideologies, understanding, and/or a way of life that is shared & enacted by a group of individuals that is in direct opposition to, or at least challenges, dominant social norms Collins Dictionary of Sociology • Any of the subcultures & oppositional cultures in which lifestyles, beliefs & values are distinct from those of the main or dominant culture, and which may challenge its central beliefs, ideals & institutions Grossberg – Culture • Williams (1958, 16) compared to the development of the term to that of “industry,” “democracy,” “class,” and “art” • Its developed was “the most striking” • Offers “a record of a number of important & continuing reactions to… changes in our social, economic & political life, & may be seen, in itself, as a special kind of map by means of which the nature of the changes can be explored.” • Culture is the process of human self-making • Culture refers to a fundamental social process of world making, a process that “creates specific and different ‘ways of life,’” (18) and also refers to those ways of life themselves • Culture defines not only the Being of the human, but also the particularity of and the differences among the multiplicity of humans • Culture is both the fact of mediation and the
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