Intro to Media and Culture [NOTES - PART 9] -- I got a 90% in the course

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University of Massachusetts Amherst
COMM 121

January 30: What is Culture? Raymond Williams and culture: Culture: one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language ● A noun, a discourse, a metaphor ● Probably used regularly without thinking ● Discourse: makes culture so tricky ○ We don’t have just one way or noun of it ○ Words are largely tied to what they do - includes “culture” ■ Example: “automobile” referred to as “horseless carriage” and power of a car is still referred to in “horsepower” ■ Broadcast: to cast widely, agricultural term about throwing seeds ● Culture as a term, comes from an organic place ○ Germs, bacteria, petri dish ○ Coming from an idea of organic development ○ Going through process of maneuvering and being maneuvered by society ● Culture as a metaphor: ○ Complex - we struggle with it “mightily” ○ What is “good” and “bad” culture? ○ Debate art, gender, race, class, authenticity, subcultures, culture wars ○ “Everything we touch is culture-embodied” ○ Mona Lisa example: is someone who appreciates “fine art” more “cultured”? Does someone who does not care about “fine art” a bad person? Not cultured? Doesn’t have good taste? ■ This debate makes culture a metaphor ○ “Highbrow and lowbrow” Ideology: a system of meaning that helps define and explain the world and makes value judgments about that world ● To make ideology visible, one must PAUSE and DECONSTRUCT what we think of as normal, natural, common sense Dominant Ideology: the worldview of the powerful; some ideas have an advantage because they are popular and/or are espoused as valuable by those in power ● The idea itself may not be popular (could be horrible!), but if its espoused/put forth by the powerful, it is part of dominant ideology Ideological Analysis: examines and deconstructs the stories told by our media and in our social circles ● How we make sense of ideology and dominant ideology ● Examine stories told by the media - or work, school, faith ● Point out alternative positions ● Ideology is NOT normal or natural - they are built up over time by socialization ● We may be subject to dominant ideology because of the environment we live in Marx and Engels: the ruling class and ruling ideas ● “the ides of the ruling class are in every epoch [time period] the ruling ideas” ○ Looking at the way in which industrial economies are developing and asking, “What is happening??” ○ Moving from feudal agrarian society to industrialization (factories) ○ The first time that people “go to work” rather than working at home on your own land ○ Factory is “run by the few and worked by the many” - economically this doesn’t make sense ■ Why are fe
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