Chapter 1 introducing popular culture
What/Who defines the Popular?
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.
What is Popular Culture?
Consumption: it refers to the things we buy, watch, and or listen
The kind of culture produced by the commercial media is often seen as threatening the culture
of everyday life by diverting people’s desire for fulfillment-a desire that can ultimately be
satisfied only by productive activity-into habits of passive consumption
Folk Culture and Mass Culture
Folk Culture: refers to those cultural products and practices that have been developed over time
within a particular community or socially identifiable group, and that are communicated from
generation to generation and amongst people who tend to be known to one another, it tends to
be seen as the direct expression of the life experiences shared by its creators and their audience
Mass culture: on the other hand, is produced for an unknown, disparate audience. While the
transmission of folk culture is generally technologically simple (face-to-face) mass culture
depends on electronic media to convey its message to the largest possible audience in order to
secure maximum profit, which is its ultimate goal.
Rap music is now a multi-billion dollar industry, emerged relatively recently from African-
American street culture of the South Bronx. In each of these cases it is difficult to identify the
precise moment when folk culture metamorphosed into mass culture.
Ideology: Refers to the process by which the set of values and beliefs that bind individuals
together in society becomes “naturalized”
Authenticity: A positive quality of genuineness and originality attributed to objects, practices, or
ideas, often in order to demonstrate the extent to which an initially authentic phenomenon has
been compromised or drained of its value, the notion of authenticity has been critiqued for its
ideological grounding in nostalgic vision of a more “real” cultural past now sullied by rank
The politics of popular culture
Capitalism: is an economic system based on private ownership of the means of production and
distribution, and geared toward the generation of profit.
Over tendency today is to these features of capitalism as not only positive but also natural-the
products of human nature rather than consciously worked out ideas-makes it harder to its less
desirable aspects, such as social fragmentation, the unequal distribution of wealth, and the
conversion of everything into something can be bought and sold
Colonialism: the historical process through which dominant groups have assimilated,
dominated, and subjugated less powerful ones. Distinct from imperialism, which can also be used to describe non-territorial kinds of control, colonialism involved physical settlement along
with the military, political, and economic conquest of a people.
Capitalist economies: the means of creating, distributing and exchanging wealth lie mainly in
the hands of individuals and corporations
Monopolistic: An economic situation in which a single supplier controls the market for a
particular product or service.
Privatized: The process through which 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 run to generate profit.
Sneaking in through the back door
Industrialization: The movement within a culture or economic system toward and increased
emphasis on large-scale/mechanized industry rather than agricultural/small-scale commercial
Class Mobility: A characteristic of societies in which it is possible for and individual or a family to
move from one social class to another, and thus alter their social status and economic standing.
For example, modern Western societies have greater class mobility and the rigid aristocratic
society that proceeded the, which had firmly defined and immobile class boundaries. The idea of
class mobility can also act as an ideology that paradoxically maintains the status quo. Even in
Western societies, it remains difficult for the majority of people to change their class standing.
Commodities: Objects and services produced for consumption or exchange by someone other
than their producers.
The Democratization of Culture
Marxism: Marxist approaches to society and culture emphasize the primacy of economic
relation and structures in determining all other social activity. In particular, Marxism emphasizes
the exploitative foundations of capitalist systems of economics.
The Americanization of Popular Culture
Cold war: A phrase that popularly refers to the tense, hostile relationship between the
communist (U.S.S.R) and the capitalist (U.S) superpowers and their respective allies from the
end of the Second World War until the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Although marked by
bitter animosities fuelled by ideological differ