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Encyclopedia > Pop culture

Popular culture, or pop culture, (literally: "the culture of the people") consists of the cultural elements that prevail (at least numerically) in any given society, mainly using the more popular media, in that society's vernacular language and/or an established lingua franca. It results from the daily interactions, needs and desires and cultural 'moments' that make up the everyday lives of the mainstream. It can include any number of practices, including those pertaining to cooking, clothing, mass media and the many facets of entertainment such as sports and literature. (Compare meme.) Popular culture often contrasts with a more exclusive, even elitist "high culture". The word culture, from the Latin colo, -ere, with its root meaning to cultivate, generally refers to patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activity significance. ... Human relationships within an ethnically diverse society. ... The vernacular is the native language of a country or locality. ... Lingua franca, literally Frankish language in Italian, was originally a mixed language consisting largely of Italian plus a vocabulary drawn from Turkish, Persian, French, Greek and Arabic and used for communication throughout the Middle East. ... Everyday life is the sum total of every aspect of common human life as it is routinely lived. ... Mainstream is, generally, the common current of thought of the majority. ... Cooking is an act of preparing food for eating. ... Men and women wearing suits, an example of one of the many modern forms of clothing (from the 1937 Chicago Woolen Mills catalog) Clothing is defined, in its broadest sense, as coverings for the torso and limbs as well as coverings for the hands (gloves), feet (socks, shoes, sandals, boots... Mass media is a term used to denote, as a class, that section of the media specifically conceived and designed to reach a very large audience (typically at least as large as the whole population of a nation state). ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Recreation. ... Old book bindings at the Merton College library. ... The term meme (IPA: ), coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins, refers to a replicator of cultural information that one mind transmits (verbally or by demonstration) to another mind. ... Elitism is a belief or attitude that an elite — a selected group of persons whose personal abilities, specialized training or other attributes place them at the top of any field (see below) — are the people whose views on a matter are to be taken most seriously, or who are alone... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


If one regards culture as a way of defining oneself (an extremely individualist approach), a culture needs to attract the interest of people (potential members) and to persuade them to invest a part of themselves in it. People like to feel a part of a group and to understand their cultural identity within that group, which tends to happen naturally in a small, somewhat isolated community. Mass culture, however, lets people define themselves in relation to everybody else in mass society at the level of a city, a country, an international community (such as a wide-spread language, a former colonial empire, a religion...) or even of a whole planet. Cultural identity is the (feeling of) identity of a group or culture, or of an individual as far as she/he is influenced by her/his belonging to a group or culture. ...


Pop culture finds its expression in the mass circulation of items from areas such as fashion, music, sport and film. The world of pop culture had a particular influence on art from the early 1960s, through Pop Art. The term fashion usually applies to a prevailing mode of expression, but quite often applies to a personal mode of expression that may or may not adhere to prevailing ideals. ... Music is an art, entertainment, or other human activity that involves organized and audible sounds and silence. ... Film refers to the celluloid media on which movies are printed. ... Venus de Milo exhibited in the Louvre museum, France. ... Just What Is It that Makes Todays Homes So Different, So Appealing?, designed and all images and creative material provided by John McHale from his famous POP art filled black metal tunk, cut out and paste up of mechanicals by Richard Hamilton, his wife Terry, and Magda Cordell McHale...

Contents


Defining popular culture

Curiously, though almost everybody spends their lives immersed in popular culture, nobody seems able to agree on what popular culture consists of. We see advertisements for products and services almost daily — that counts as participation in popular culture. We watch television, go to movies, listen to popular music, read newspapers and magazines, use the Internet, eat snacks and dress in certain ways. All of these go to form part of our popular culture. Personal life (or everyday life or human existence) is an individual humans personal, private career (including, but not the same as, their employment career), and is a common notion in modern existence -- although more so in more prosperous parts of the world, such as Western Europe and North America... Generally speaking, advertising is the paid promotion of goods, services, companies and ideas by an identified sponsor. ... For other uses see film (disambiguation) Film refers to the celluliod media on which movies are printed Film — also called movies, the cinema, the silver screen, moving pictures, photoplays, picture shows, flicks, or motion pictures, — is a field that encompasses motion pictures as an art form or as part of... Popular music is music belonging to any of a number of musical styles that are accessible to the general public and mostly distributed commercially. ... A collection of magazines A magazine is a periodical publication containing a variety of articles, generally financed by advertising and/or purchase by readers. ... Men and women wearing suits, an example of one of the many modern forms of clothing (from the 1937 Chicago Woolen Mills catalog) Clothing is defined, in its broadest sense, as coverings for the torso and limbs as well as coverings for the hands (gloves), feet (socks, shoes, sandals, boots...


Historically, commentators on culture defined the term "popular culture" in negative terms as those parts or expressions of culture not accepted into the cultural milieu of the social élite (such as courts, the nobility, patricians or the rich bourgeoisie), nor in an institutionalized context (such as professional theatre, church liturgy, military life). Some distinguish the products of high culture as "art" (i.e., sacred) and popular culture as mere "entertainment" (i.e., "profane"). However, this implied value-distinction ultimately misleads in its use of definitions, since all art in some sense "entertains", and all entertainment likewise entails an artistic discipline of some kind. Elite may refer to Elitism - the concept of social stratification by innate or social qualities Elite - computer software game Elite - a skilled hacker Leet - an online culture or attitude sometimes identified by frequent use of leetspeak Elite Systems, a UK video game developer. ... A royal or noble court, as an instrument of government broader than a court of justice, comprises an extended household centered on a patron whose rule may govern law or be governed by it. ... The Lords and Barons prove their Nobility by hanging their Banners and exposing their Coats-of-arms at the door of the Lodge of the Heralds. ... Patricians were originally the elite caste in ancient Rome. ... bourgeoisie is basically a trem that meens middle class. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Social organisation. ... It has been suggested that Drama (art form) be merged into this article or section. ... From the Greek word λειτουργία, which can be transliterated as leitourgia, meaning a public work, a liturgy comprises a prescribed religious ceremony, according to the traditions of a particular religion; it may refer to, or include, an elaborate formal ritual (such as the Catholic Mass), or a daily activity such as...


The dividing line between popular and "higher" culture can often become blurred, as "official" culture may adopt (and often polish) popular elements, giving them wider kudos. This happened, for example, with the waltz: originally an Austrian peasant dance, it experienced a refinement process in Viennese high society and subsequently spread worldwide. And note too the story of the Trojan War: whatever the ultimate origins of this tale in folk mythology, Homer cast it as sophisticated narrative for aristocratic Achaeans; the Attic tragedians brought it to more popular levels; it survived for centuries as part of the high culture of the classically-educated, only to get re-worked in the 21st century as populist blockbuster film-material (in Troy, for example). The waltz is a ballroom and folk dance in 3/4 time, done primarily in closed position. ... This article is about the film; for the pornographic magazine of the same name, see High Society (magazine). ... The fall of Troy by Johann Georg Trautmann (1713–1769) From the collections of the granddukes of Baden, Karlsruhe The Trojan War was a war waged, according to legend, against the city of Troy in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey), by the armies of the Achaeans, after Paris of Troy... // The word mythology (Greek: μυθολογία, from μυθος mythos, a story or legend, and λογος logos, an account or speech) literally means the (oral) retelling of myths – stories that a particular culture believes to be true and that use supernatural events or characters to explain the nature of the universe and humanity. ... The Homère Caetani bust at the Louvre, a 2nd century Roman copy of a 2nd century BC Greek original. ... Classical education as understood and taught in the middle ages of Western culture is roughly based on the ancient Greek concept of Paideia. ... Troy is a movie that was released on May 14, 2004 about the Trojan War, which is described in Homers Iliad and other Greek myths as having taken place in Anatolia (modern Turkey) around the 13th or 12th century BC. It stars, among others: Brad Pitt as Achilles, Eric...


Some forms or culture remain too academic, esoteric or aesthetically "difficult" to gain wide popularity; but in general, modern copying/distribution technology and mass media (as well as socio-economic progress) have given the masses access to many cultural products previously reserved for the happy few — for example, through broadcast performances. Yet in many societies various forms of culture remain unpopular with the vast majority, possibly as a result of the majority lacking education or tradition.


Some people make a distinction between popular art forms and entertainment genres (such as detective stories, westerns and situation comedies) and mass media (such as radio, television, film, newspapers and magazines). But given the extent to which much of the media devotes itself to the popular arts, the distinction between the two may seem relatively unimportant. This article or section seems not to be written in the formal tone expected of an encyclopedia entry. ... The Western is an American genre in literature and film. ... A situation comedy (sitcom) is a genre of comedy performance originally devised for radio but today typically found on television. ... Mass media is a term used to denote, as a class, that section of the media specifically conceived and designed to reach a very large audience (typically at least as large as the whole population of a nation state). ... Film refers to the celluloid media on which movies are printed. ... A collection of magazines A magazine is a periodical publication containing a variety of articles, generally financed by advertising and/or purchase by readers. ...


Some people talk about mass culture, which suggests an interest in the culture of the ordinary man (as contrasted with the "high culture" of élites). But the title of an important collection of articles on mass culture, published in the mid-1950s, Mass Culture: The Popular Arts in America, suggests that (in America at least) mass culture equates to the popular arts. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Elite may refer to Elitism - the concept of social stratification by innate or social qualities Elite - computer software game Elite - a skilled hacker Leet - an online culture or attitude sometimes identified by frequent use of leetspeak Elite Systems, a UK video game developer. ... This article is about the country in North America. ...


Popular culture has a broader scope than the popular arts. It comprises the whole culture of the people — their behavior, values, and (in particular) their entertainments — not just certain art forms which appeal to large numbers of people. One can perhaps best give an indication of the definition of popular culture by stating what popular culture generally is not. It does not equate to the classic works of literature and philosophy (though curiously enough much popular culture relates directly to the same myths as in Greek tragedy, for instance; and Greek tragedy had its roots in ancient Greek popular culture). Popular culture does not consist of highly sophisticated art which appeals only to a person of highly cultivated and discriminating tastes (though popular culture can demonstrate considerable sophistication). Cultivated and discriminating persons may enjoy modern poetry as well as roller derby and professional football, but the average roller-derby and football fan probably doesn't enjoy esoteric poetry or the novels of Henry James. A cultural artifact is an man-made object which gives information about the culture of its creator and users. ... Old book bindings at the Merton College library. ... Philosopher in Meditation (detail), by Rembrandt. ... Tragedy is one of the oldest forms of drama. ... Aesthetics, esthetics or æsthetics is both the study of beauty and a term that denotes those properties of an entity that appeal to the senses. ... The Chinese poem Quatrain on Heavenly Mountain by Emperor Gaozong. ... Roller derby is an American contact sport—and historically, a form of sports entertainment—based on formation roller skating around a track. ... A professional provides a service in exchange for payment in accordance with established protocols for licensing, ethics, procedures, standards of service and training/certification. ... Look up Football in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses of this name, see Henry James (disambiguation). ...


Popular culture in the 20th and early-21st centuries

In modern urban mass societies, several factors have played a major role in shaping popular culture: Mass society is a society in which the concerns of the majority – the lower social classes – play a prominent role, characterized by extension of voting rights, an improved standard of living for the lower classes and mass education. ...

  1. the development of industrial mass production
  2. the introduction of new technologies of sound and image broadcasting and recording
  3. the growth of mass media industries — the film, broadcast radio and television, and the book-publishing industries, as well as the print and electronic news media

But one cannot describe even contemporary popular culture as just the aggregate product of industrial developments; instead, contemporary Western popular culture results from a continuing interaction between those industries and those who consume their products. Bennett (1980, p.153-218) distinguishes between 'primary' and 'secondary' popular culture, defining primary popular culture as mass product and secondary popular culture as local re-production. Mass production is the production of large amounts of standardised products on production lines. ... Mass media is a term used to denote, as a class, that section of the media specifically conceived and designed to reach a very large audience (typically at least as large as the whole population of a nation state). ... Film is a term that encompasses motion pictures as individual projects, as well as the field in general. ... individually-donated time and energy direct government payments or operation indirect government payments, such as radio and television licenses grants from foundations or business entities selling advertising or sponsorship public subscription or membership fees charged to all owners of TV sets or radios, regardless of whether they intend to receive... This article is concerned with the production of books, magazines, and other literary material (whether in printed or electronic formats). ... News media satellite up-link trucks and photojournalists gathered outside the Prudential Financial headquarters in Newark, New Jersey in August, 2004 following the announcement of evidence of a terrorist threat to it and to buildings in New York City. ... In Keynesian economics consumption refers to personal consumption expenditure, i. ... Mass production is the production of large amounts of standardised products on production lines. ...


Popular culture changes constantly and occurs uniquely in place and time. It forms currents and eddies, in the sense that a small group of people will have a strong interest in an area of which the mainstream popular culture has only partial awareness; thus, for example, the electro-pop group Kraftwerk has "impinged on mainstream popular culture to the extent that they have been referenced in The Simpsons and Father Ted."[citation needed] A pocket watch, a device used to measure time. ... As understood in sociology, anthropology and cultural studies, a subculture is a set of people with a distinct set of behavior and beliefs that differentiate them from a larger culture of which they are a part. ... Mainstream is, generally, the common current of thought of the majority. ... Album cover of Trans-Europe Express (1977). ... The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox network. ... Father Ted is a 1990s television situation comedy set around the lives of three priests on the fictional extremely remote Craggy Island off the west coast of Ireland. ...


Items of popular culture most typically appeal to a broad spectrum of the public. Some argue that broad-appeal items dominate popular culture because profit-making companies that produce and sell items of popular culture attempt to maximize their profits by emphasizing broadly appealing items (see culture industry). But that may over-simplify the issue. To take the example of popular music: the music industry can impose any product they wish. In fact, highly popular types of music have often first evolved in small, counter-cultural circles (punk rock and rap provide two examples). Look up company in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... The term culture industry was coined by Theodor Adorno (1903-1969) and Max Horkheimer (1895-1973). ... The music industry is the industry that creates, performs, promotes, and preserves music. ... During the 1960s the term underground acquired a new meaning in that it referred to members of the so-called counterculture, i. ... Punk rock is an anti-establishment music movement beginning around 1976 (although precursors can be found several years earlier), exemplified and popularised by The Ramones, the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned. ... Hip hop music (also referred to as rap or rap music) is a style of popular music which came into existence in roughly the mid 70s but became a large part of modern day pop culture in the late 80s. ...


Since World War II a significant shift in pop culture has taken place: from the production of culture to the consumption of culture. Commentators have noted[citation needed] that those in power exploit consumers to do more of the work themselves (for example, do-it-yourself checkout lines), and advertising on television, movies, radio, and in other places helps those in power to guide consumers towards what those in power consider needed or important. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, the use of images on this page may require cleanup, involving adjustment of image placement, formatting, size, or other adjustments. ... Sociologists usually define power as the ability to impose ones will on others, even if those others resist in some way. ... Consumers are individuals or households that consume goods and services generated within the economy. ... A woman operates the FastLane self-checkout by NCR at a Wal-Mart store. ... Advertising, generally speaking, is the promotion of goods, services, companies and ideas, usually performed by an identified sponsor. ...


Origins

Popular culture has multiple origins. In conditions of modernity the set of industries that make profit by inventing and promulgating cultural material have become a principal source. These industries include those of: It has been suggested that Modern Times (history) be merged into this article or section. ...

Folklore provides a second and very different source of popular culture. In pre-industrial times, mass culture equalled folk culture. This earlier layer of culture still persists today, sometimes in the form of jokes or slang, which spread through the population by word of mouth and via the Internet. By providing a new channel for transmission, cyberspace has renewed the strength of this element of popular culture. Popular music is music belonging to any of a number of musical styles that are accessible to the general public and mostly distributed commercially. ... Film refers to the celluloid media on which movies are printed. ... This article is about computer and video games. ... Publishing is the activity of putting information into the public arena. ... Comics (or, less commonly, sequential art) is a form of visual art consisting of images which are commonly combined with text, often in the form of speech balloons or image captions. ... Folklore is the body of verbal expressive culture, including tales, legends, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs current among a particular population, comprising the oral tradition of that culture, subculture, or group. ... Popular culture, or pop culture, is the vernacular (peoples) culture that prevails in a modern society. ... Folk culture is a general term for traditional, popular culture. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Slang is the use of highly informal words and expressions that are not considered standard in the speakers dialect or language. ... Word of mouth (WOM) is the passing of information by verbal means, especially recommendations, but also general information, in an informal, person-to-person manner, rather than by mass media, advertising, organized publication, or traditional marketing. ...


Although the folkloric element of popular culture engages heavily with the commercial element, the public has its own tastes and it may not embrace every cultural item sold. Moreover, beliefs and opinions about the products of commercial culture (for example: "My favorite character is SpongeBob SquarePants") spread by word-of-mouth, and become modified in the process in the same manner that folklore evolves. Commerce is the trading of something of value between two entities. ... SpongeBob SquarePantsis a popular American media franchise. ... Word of mouth (WOM) is the passing of information by verbal means, especially recommendations, but also general information, in an informal, person-to-person manner, rather than by mass media, advertising, organized publication, or traditional marketing. ...


A different source of popular culture lies in the set of professional communities that provide the public with facts about the world, frequently accompanied by interpretation, usually as vulgarisation, i.e. adapted for consumption by the public at large (which may lack the training to appreciate academic language). Such communities include the news media, and scientific and scholarly communities. The news media mines the work of scientists and scholars and conveys it to the general public, often emphasizing "factoids" that have inherent appeal or the power to amaze. For instance, giant pandas (a species in remote Chinese woodlands) have become well-known items of popular culture; parasitic worms, though of greater practical importance, have not. Interpretation, or interpreting, is an activity that consists of establishing, either simultaneously or consecutively, oral or gestural communications between two or more speakers who are not speaking (or signing) the same language. ... News media satellite up-link trucks and photojournalists gathered outside the Prudential Financial headquarters in Newark, New Jersey in August, 2004 following the announcement of evidence of a terrorist threat to it and to buildings in New York City. ... Plato is credited with the inception of academia: the body of knowledge, its development and transmission across generations. ... News media satellite up-link trucks and photojournalists gathered outside the Prudential Financial headquarters in Newark, New Jersey in August, 2004 following the announcement of evidence of a terrorist threat to it and to buildings in New York City. ... The physicist Albert Einstein is probably historys most widely recognized scientist. ... A scholar is either a student or someone who has achieved a mastery of some academic discipline, perhaps receiving financial support through a scholarship. ... The band General Public formed after the 1983 break-up of The Beat (see 1983 in music). ... Factoid can refer to a spurious (unverified, incorrect or invented) fact intended to create or prolong public exposure or to manipulate public opinion. ... Binomial name Ailuropoda melanoleuca (David, 1869) Giant Panda range The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca black-and-white cat-foot) is a mammal classified in the bear family, Ursidae, native to central and southern China. ... Intestinal parasites are parasites that populate the gastro-intestinal tract. ...


Both scholarly facts and news stories get modified through popular transmission, often to the point of outright falsehoods. At this point, they become known as urban legends. Other urban myths may have no factual basis at all, having simply originated as jokes. Urban legends are a kind of folklore consisting of stories often thought to be factual by those circulating them (see rumor). ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...


Criticisms of popular culture

Given its wide availability, popular culture has attracted much criticism.


Some charge that popular culture tends to endorse a limited understanding and experience of life through common, unsophisticated feelings and attitudes and its emphasis on the banal, the superficial, the capricious and the disposable. Critics may also claim that popular culture stems more from sensationalism and narcissistic wish-fulfillment fantasies than from soberly considered reality and mature personal and spiritual development. Cultural items that require extensive experience, education, training, taste, insight or reflection for their fuller appreciation seldom become items of popular culture. Superficial is a general term meaning regarding the surface, often metaphorically. ... Sensationalism is a manner of being extremely controversial, loud, attention-grabbing, or otherwise sensationalistic. ... Narcissism is the pattern of traits and behaviors which involve infatuation and obsession with ones self to the exclusion of others and the egotistic and ruthless pursuit of ones gratification, dominance and ambition. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Reality in everyday usage means everything that exists. The term reality, in its widest sense, includes everything that is, whether it is observable, accessible or understandable by science, philosophy, or any other system of analysis. ...


Corporations and advertisers have acquired a reputation for pushing popular memes in order to generate the mass consumption of their products and services. Some Marxists complain that popular culture — and its implied insistance on a necessary causal relationship between consumption and self-actualization — perpetuates pernicious, deep-seated social and economic divisions which alienate the working class from the ruling professional and leisure classes and result in general discontent and a diminished quality and enjoyment of life for all (compare situationism). A corporation (usually known in the United Kingdom and Ireland as a company) is a legal entity (distinct from a natural person) that often has similar rights in law to those of a Civil law systems may refer to corporations as moral persons; they may also go by the name... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with consumption (economics). ... Marxism refers to the philosophy and social theory on one hand, and to the political practice based on Marxist theory on the other hand (namely, parts of the First International during Marxs time, communist parties and later states). ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Maslows hierarchy of needs. ... The term working class is used to denote a social class. ... Physicians are among the most commonly used examples of occupations which are part of the professional class. ... The Theory of the Leisure Class is a book, first published in 1899, by the American economist Thorstein Veblen while he was a professor at the University of Chicago. ... The Situationist International (SI), an international political and artistic movement, originated in the Italian village of Cosio dArroscia on 28 July 1957 with the fusion of several extremely small artistic tendencies: the Lettrist International, the International movement for an imaginist Bauhaus, and the London Psychogeographical Association. ...


See also

This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... The term fashion usually applies to a prevailing mode of expression, but quite often applies to a personal mode of expression that may or may not adhere to prevailing ideals. ... A fad, also known as a craze, refers to a fashion that becomes popular in a culture (or subcultures) relatively quickly, remains popular, often for a rather brief period, then loses popularity dramatically. ... Low culture is a derogatory term for some forms of popular culture. ... Pop-culture tourism is the act of traveling to locations featured in literature, film, music, or any other form of popular entertainment. ...

External links

  • Dumbing Down and Popular Culture

  Results from FactBites:
 
Pop Culture Spot Pop Culture Beat (244 words)
pop culture, noun; contemporary lifestyle and items that are well known and generally accepted, cultural patterns that are widespread within a population.
We're going to frequently update what will become a massive database of pop culture knowledge and information focusing on pop culture moments, products, and themes.
This will be an interactive process and we look forward to your submissions in order to make our Pop Culture Beat one of the most exciting kitsch databases on the Internet.
popular culture: Information from Answers.com (1153 words)
Popular culture, or pop culture, (literally: "the culture of the people") consists of the cultural elements that prevail (at least numerically) in any given society, mainly using the more popular media, in that society's vernacular language and/or an established lingua franca.
Pop culture finds its expression in the mass circulation of items from areas such as fashion, music, sport and film.
Some charge that popular culture tends to endorse a limited understanding and experience of life through common, unsophisticated feelings and attitudes and its emphasis on the banal, the superficial, the capricious and the disposable.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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