The Cool Culture Soul Machine: The Anthropology of Everyday Life
Lecture 1 – May 6, 2013
Anthropological Approaches Culture Theory
- Anthropology of media, - Refers to the work done of cultural
anthropology of art; visual studies. For example work by Hall
anthropology and Fiske that focuses on disperse
Some Questions to think about:
- How do we make sense of popular culture? How do we create meaning? What are
the social purposes of popular culture?
o To communicate ideas of our societies, of ourselves, what we think of our
- What ideas about society and culture are communicated, and how? (Ideas,
ideologies, social norms, identities)
o Is it just the mirror of society? Does it play a role in shaping society? Of other
people? Our experiences?
- Production? Reception: power of media // agency of consumers’ or audience
o What is the power of relationships?
o Someone is producing and shaping these attitudes that we have
- What is Culture Theory? What does “Anthropological Approaches” Mean?
What is Popular Culture? What is Culture?
- They are both historically and contextually situated
o When we think of popular culture, culture depends on context (for example
as a student, consumer) and changes through time (ie. from the 1950s is
different from how it is now)
- Can and is constructed and negotiated by society
What is Culture?
- Culture with “C” or (Kulture)
Anthropological idea of culture:
- A people’s way of life; included all spheres of life, which are interconnected (holistic
o For example social, economic, political etc.
o Holistic approach – understanding aspects of life and how they all connect
- “Learned and shared ways of thinking and behaving”
o Our ideas, the way we behave is a learned and shared within a society
- Culture is…
o Behaviour, thoughts, and meanings symbols
Meaning of the symbols vary
o Learned (not nature) and shared
o Interact and change
o It is not a homogenous entity, it changes through time (there are internal
and external influences that affect the way of culture itself ‘
o Are always changing
Cultural Studies Approach to Culture:
- Adds: experiences of postmodern capitalist society, dominated by mass media The Cool Culture Soul Machine: The Anthropology of Everyday Life
Lecture 1 – May 6, 2013
- Culture is “… the social production and reproduction of sense, meaning and
consciousness. The sphere of meaning which unifies the spheres of production
(economics) and social relations (politics).” (O’Brien 2010:5)
What is Popular Culture?
- Can be commercial, enjoyed by man people, common prevalent, well liked my many
o It is everyway, presented through the media
- PC as “folk culture” (is of the people)
o Ie. Representations at local festivals, tales, songs, craft sales
- PC as “mass media” (prevalent)
o Produced of the people for a mass audience
o Television, films, music
o While it can be seen and consumed everywhere, it doesn’t mean that
everyone can experience it the same way
- PC as consumption (measures popularity)
o The ratings of a CD being sold, how successful a fashion statement became
(ie. skinny jeans)
- PC in