SOC 202 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Soapstone, Mass Media, Cultural Studies

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25 Apr 2012
Chapter 1 Introducing Popular Culture
- Why popular culture is such a critical part if contemporary life?
- Popular culture is far more difficult “thing” to pin down than a smartphone
o because it is constantly changing shape, shifting locations, assuming new identities and
new tasks and functions
- Popular culture is familiar and obvious at first glance, but very complicated as soon as you start
to think about it in any detail
- Popular culture consists of products, texts, practises
- Popular culture is commercial culture than high culture, which people today still tend to
associate with the things they imagine that rich people who own yachts like to do
- Popular culture consists of the traditional practises and beliefs or way of life of a specific group;
and, finally, the most wide-ranging definition of all, popular culture is simply the practices of
everyday life
What is Culture?
- The word “culture” implying that it is a significant concept in our society, and one that we likely
can’t do without
- “Culture” in the first sense, fits with lots of context and it focuses on what we usually think of as
high-end creative production: artistic pursuits that are enjoyed by an elite minority as opposed
to more accessible leisure activities
- “Culture” is seen as a whole way of life of a society or a distinct subsection of society
o Culture is the context refers to the practises that defines us as human
o And informs the disciplines of the social sciences
- Mass media is frequently cited as the thing that threatens to destroy “culture”
- Objects of study
o Defines culture as “the social production and reproduction of sense, meaning and
o Cultural studies thinks deeply about the connections between culture and the spheres
of politics and economics, and seeks to understand how that realm of activity concerned
with “meanings, pleasures and identifies” shapes relations of power
What/Who Defines the Popular?
- Latin word “popularis” which means belonging to the people”
- “popular” means that something is liked by a lot of people
o It is refers to a particular group of people whom a certain quality or value is attached
- It tends to carry with the connotations of values are seen differently depending on who is
talking and in what context
- What agency is involved on the part of “the people” in determining or defining something to be
What is Popular Culture?
- “popular culture” identifies it with the entertainment produced through and by commercial
media that have the economic and technological capacity
- Popularity is measured by the patterns of consumption: the thing that you buy, watch to…)
- “Popular culture” defines it in terms of production: what ppl do and make for themselves
- Cultural Production: Folk and Mass Culture
o Folk Culture: are the cultural products and practises that have developed over time
within a particular community or socially identifiable group, and that are communicated
from generation to generation
Transmission of folk culture is technologically simple (face to face, oral
communication)…. Inuit soapstone carving
o Mass Culture: is produced for an unknown, disparate audience
Depends of technology and electronic devices…. MTV rap video
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