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Chapter 6.docx

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Media Studies
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Michael Petit

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Chapter 6 Cultural Theory: An Overview Culture – is simply what human beings produce and the means by which we preserve what we have produced It is constructed, multi-faceted, and uniquely human Building blocks of culture fall into roughly three forms Physical – artifacts: any material aspects of daily life that possess widely shared meanings and manifest group identification to us Social – if artifacts are the products of our shared lives, then customers are our shared, lived experiences Attitudinal – our customs, laws, and traditions reflect particular ways of understanding the world Attitudes display the overarching ways a particular culture makes sense of the world and itself Culture is collective Culture must be shared among a group of people Culture is rhetorical Culture is sustained and transmitted exclusively through the words and images that carry significance for members of the culture Culture is historical It changes evolves, mutates, fades, and even disappears over time Culture is ideological Cultures we inhabit teach us to see the world in some ways and not in others Culture can be described as the collection of artifacts, practices, and beliefs of a particular group of people at a particular historical moment, supported by symbolic systems and directed by ideology The Functions of Ideology Ideology – is a system of ideas that unconsciously shapes and constrains both our beliefs and behaviours Four ways that ideology structures our social world are through: Limitation – limits the range of acceptable ideas that a person may consider within a particular cultural context. It promotes and legitimates certain perspectives and values while obscuring or devaluing others Some ideologies define our world in a more unconscious fashion, and we enact or support them often without realizing it Example: we only think about intersexuality and sexual ideologies when we are consciously confronted with the ideas Normalizes – ideology often makes social relations and arrangements between individuals seem normal, and it makes established relationships of power appear to be the natural order of things The social roles that we occupy throughout our lifetime (child, student, employee) inscribe us into relationships of unequal power as a result of ideological value hierarchies. Example: the ideology of American capitalism ensures that employers have power over their employees Privileges – the perspectives, qualities, or needs of socially powerful groups are more important or valid than those of socially dominated groups American business culture is full of examples of this distinction Interpellation – ideology is so infused into the social structure that it actually serves as the force to interpellate us, or the force that calls us into existence as social subjects the process of forming identity is a process of ideological recognition ideological discourse not only speaks to us, it creates the us Ideological Processes: Myth, Doxa, and Hegemony Myth – is a sacred story of type of speech that reaffirms and reproduces ideology in relation to an object Operates as the higher level of meaning of a particular objective Cultural myths normalize the ideologies of the ruling or socially privileged groups and reinforce power differentials between classes Doxa – represents knowledge “which is beyond question and which each agent tacitly accords by the mere fact of acting in accord with social convention” Refers to the constructed aspects of a culture that its members do not really challenge or critically reflect upon Means common sense Universe of doxa – made up of social rules and processes that go unquestioned Hegemony – is the process by which one ideology subverts other competing ideologies and gains cultural dominance Is the process of convincing peo
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