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Chapter 2

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Kenneth Derry

Chapter 2: Culture • Term culture is not straightforward • Cultural studies is relevant to most aspects of human life: work, play, adulthood, youth, literature, sports • Religion is not different, it is an aspect of cultural life • Culture is something that is done, we have culture, we do culture – imp.; is what people do Raymond Williams: Types of Culture • We all feel we have a culture we belong to and makes who we are – Italian, Canadian • Another form of culture which we do not possess, but with which we engage – art, music • Williams pointed three ways culture can we used: o Culture is an ideal o Culture in a documentary sense o Culture in a social sense • Culture as a shared way of life Elite Culture: • Often used to describe an ideal, in an elitist way • Term is used to mark out and distinguish particular types of product which are thought to be high quality • Not every book is considered to be culture – elite sense it suggests a work of distinction o Imbibe at school – books, music • Study of the attempt by humans to reach perfection and civilization • Williams as primarily a process of discovering and describing the peaks of human expressions • Christian traditions: bible itself a piece of culture • Quran – early days of Islam had fundamental role in development of writing Arabic • The relationship between religion and culture extends well beyond texts Culture on the popular level: • William does not wish to rest content on elitist level • Critical study of culture one can include as subjects not only great works of art, literature and music but also the les great works • The study of culture should not only focus exclusively on the elite type of culture such as Shakespeare o This is not meant in a flippant or disparaging sense – although accusations can been made that such an approach is flawed- since breaks down the quality barrier between lasting and great works • Judgment depends • William is stressing – not concern which artist is better or worse, but both have produced serious pieces of cultural work that need to be analyzed on a social level • Popular type of religious music work on the everyday level of people’s lives • William’s second type of culture – culture on the popular level – lead us into the area of study which appears to have very wide boundaries • Is very diverse – methodologies could be need to be applied • Religious ideas, concepts, are expressed culturally different popular forms Stuart Hall: Popular Culture • Wider concept – goes beyond the ideal or elitist sense • Stuart suggested three different ways to talk about popular: o Popular as well like by the masses o Popular as simply what people do o Popular as being in contrast to dominant or elite culture Mass Appeal and the Business of Culture: • Popular has mass appeal • Mass appeal is bound up with consumer commercialism • Cultural products become used in the popular domain in particular ways • Music, books etc. – given out for purpose – make money • Culture become popular through being sold to the public • View of popular culture may seem relevant only to contemporary western societies, where consumerism is big business • Some global churches and other religious organizations work almost as industries • Many contemporary culture television has become dominate medium • Televangelism – the broadcasting od church preaching and ministry through cable • Books are published with religious theme • The distinction that is usually made between two types of product is normally expressed in terms of quality Mass Culture and the popular as “what people do”: • Returning to Stuart Hall’s second dorm of popular culture, we can say that term popular not only refers to mass appeal • But also concept of ‘popular as what people do’ • This is more diffuse and little less subtle • Field of popular culture is almost unlimited • Anything in the popular domain is popular culture and popular culture is anything done by a number of people • John Fiske: o Describes interaction between popular and mass appeal and mass culture: “Popular culture, then, is not mass culture, though it is typically made from it…
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