KEY TERMS AND CONCEPTS (CH. 1, 2, 4, 5)
Consumption: refers to the things we buy (or watch, or listen to, etc.)
Folk Culture: Cultural products or practices that have developed over time within a particular community or
socially identifiable group and that are communicated from generation to generation and among people
who tend to know one another.
Mass Culture: A form of culture produced for profit and for a large and diverse audience by a vertically
integrated factory system. In some pervasive ways mass culture is breaking down as a result of economic
processes of market segmentation, cultural developments, and the growing accessibility of technology
allowing the "masses" to produce their own culture.
Materialist: Two meanings – One; an unhealthy, undesirable, or vulgar attachment to consumption and
ownership of material goods, or commodities, which equates happiness with owning a lot of things and
distracts from the "finer" spiritual or intellectual aspects of life. Second, a philosophy that stresses the
importance of physical objects and the actually existing conditions of life in shaping the concepts,
discourses, and habitus of societies and historical periods.
Authenticity: A positive quality of genuineness and originality attributed to objects, practices or ideas, often
to demonstrate the extent to which an initially authentic phenomenon has been compromised or drained of
its value. This term has been critiqued for its ideology grounding in a nostalgic vision of a more "real"
cultural past now sullied by rank commercialism.
Capitalism: is an economic system based on private ownership of the means of production and
distribution, and geared towards a generation of profit. It is the dominant economic system in the world
today. Key characteristics of capitalism include both its wealth-generating capacity and the patterns of
inequitable distribution on which that capacity depends, help to determine the shape of culture (mostly
Colonialism: The historical process through which dominant groups have assimilated, dominated, and
conquered less powerful one; physical settlement along with the military, political, and economic conquest
Postmodernism: a late-20th-century style and concept in the arts, architecture, and criticism that
represents a departure from modernism and has at its heart a general distrust of grand theories and
ideologies as well as a problematical relationship with any notion of “art.” Postmodernism also names a
generalized lack of epistemic certainty- a questioning of long-standing assumptions about the search for
and importance of "truth" in the operation of society, politics, culture, an science.
Privatized: A process through which the ownership of a public enterprise or the responsibility to enact a
state function is transferred from government or community control into the private corporate sector and
operated to generate profit.
Cultural Studies: is the examining of cultural practices through critical theory and literary criticism.
Popular Culture: is the entirety of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images, and other phenomena
that are within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid-20th century
and the emerging global mainstream of the late 20th and early 21st century. Heavily influenced by mass
media, this collection of ideas permeates the everyday lives of the society.
Industrialization: The process in which a society or country transforms itself from a primarily agricultural
society into one based on the manufacturing of goods and services.
Class Mobility: A characteristic of societies in which it is possible for an individual or a family to move from
one social class to another; thus their social status and economic standing. Commodities: Objects and services produced for consumption or exchange by someone other than their
producers. Although humans have always exchanged the goods they produced for other goods, in the 19
century a new focus on the consumption of an increasingly diverse array of commodities by greater number
of consumers was partly responsible for the gradual shift to a consumer culture.
Commodity Fetishism: Marx employed this term to describe the almost magical value attributed to objects
in a capitalist economy-value derived not from how they are used or the labor that produced them, but from
the price they command in the market.
Agency: The ability of individuals to act as self-conscious, willful social actors and to exert their will through
involvement in social practices, relationships, and decision making.
Marxism: A wide range of political and cultural philosophies that draw their inspiration from the work of Karl
Marx. Marxist approaches society and culture emphasize the importance of economic relations and
structures in determining all other social activity. Marxism emphasizes the unequal foundations of capitalist
systems of economics.
Consumerism: the complex set of values and practices produced by and arising from life in a consumer
society, a historically unique from of society in which consumption an important, if not central role. It is the
belief that the organization of life around the purchase of commodities is the optimal way to address the
needs and wants of individuals, and even to allocate social goods.
Individualism: the belief that the individual is the basic moral and political unit of society, and that the
interests of the individual should take priority over those of the community.
Cultural Imperialism: defined as the cultural aspects of imperialism. Imperialism, here, is referring to the
creation and maintenance of unequal relationships between civilizations favoring the more powerful
civilization. Therefore, it can be defined as the practice of promoting and imposing a culture, usually of
politically powerful nations over less potent societies. It is the cultural hegemony of those industrialized or
economically influential countries, which determine general cultural values and standardize civilizations
throughout the world.
Idealization: to idealize an object, person, or social movement is to fail to critically account for its actual
existence, holding it instead to impossibly high standards while ignoring the possible or potential flaws the
idealized object may have.
Discourses: A concept articulated by Michael Foucault to describe the way speech and writing work in
combination with specific structures and institutions to shape social reality. Knowledge, according to
"discourse", is power, since it comes into being through the operations of power and also exercises power
by determining which truths will be endorsed.
Urbanization: The long-term but increasingly intensifying shift of human populations from the country to
Ideology: the process by which the set of values and beliefs that bind individuals together in a society
become "accepted". The belief and value systems of any given society are the outcome of history. A system
of ideas and beliefs that form the basis of an economic or political theory or policy. Ideology tends to refer to