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Encyclopedia > Popular culture

Popular culture (or pop culture) is the widespread cultural elements in any given society that are perpetuated through that society's vernacular language or lingua franca. It comprises 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, consumption, 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,"[1], that is, the culture of ruling social groups.[2] Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... Image File history File links Emblem-important. ... For other uses, see Culture (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Society (disambiguation). ... Look up Vernacular in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... 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. ... Look up mainstream in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Cooking is the act of preparing food. ... Clothing protects the vulnerable nude human body from the extremes of weather, other features of our environment, and for safety reasons. ... In economics, consumption refers to the final use of goods and services to provide utility. ... Popular press redirects here; note that the University of Wisconsin Press publishes under the imprint The Popular Press. Mass media is a term used to denote a section of the media specifically envisioned and designed to reach a very large audience such as the population of a nation state. ... A stilt-walker entertaining shoppers at a shopping centre in Swindon, England Entertainment is an event, performance, or activity designed to give pleasure or relaxation to an audience (although, for example, in the case of a computer game the audience may be only one person). ... For other uses, see Literature (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Meme (disambiguation). ... Elitism is the belief or attitude that the people who are considered to be the elite — a selected group of persons with outstanding personal abilities, wealth, specialised training or experience, or other distinctive attributes — are the people whose views on a matter are to be taken the most seriously, or... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... The term ruling class refers to the social class of a given society that decides upon and sets that societys political policy. ... In sociology, a group is usually defined as a collection consisting of a number of people who share certain aspects, interact with one another, accept rights and obligations as members of the group and share a common identity. ...

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 has had a particular influence on art from the early 1960s on, through Pop Art. When modern pop culture began during the early 1950s, it made it harder for adults to participate[3] . Today, most adults, their kids and grandchildren "participate" in pop culture directly or indirectly. For other uses, see Fashion (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Music (disambiguation). ... This article is about motion pictures. ... This article is about the philosophical concept of Art. ... Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing? (1956) is one of the earliest works to be considered pop art. ...



The meaning of popular and the meaning of culture are essentially contested concepts and there are multiple competing definitions of popular culture. John Storey, in "Cultural Theory and Popular Culture", discusses six definitions. The quantitative definition, of culture has the problem that much "high" culture (e.g. television dramatisations of Jane Austen) is widely favoured. "Pop culture" can also be defined as the culture that is "left over" when we have decided what "high culture" is. However, many works straddle or cross the boundaries e.g. William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Puccini-Verdi-Pavarotti- Nessun Dorma. Storey draws our attention to the forces and relations which sustain this difference such as the educational system. For other uses, see Culture (disambiguation). ... In a paper delivered to the Aristotelian Society on 12 March 1956,[1] Walter Bryce Gallie (1912-1998) introduced the term essentially contested concept to facilitate an understanding of the different applications or interpretations of the sorts of abstract, qualitative, and evaluative notions[2] -- such as art and social justice... John Storey (Born Jervis Bay, May 15, 1869; Died Sydney October 5, 1921. ... A scale for measuring mass A quantitative property is one that exists in a range of magnitudes, and can therefore be measured. ... 1870 engraving of Jane Austen, based on a portrait commissioned by her nephew for his 1870 Memoir of Jane Austen Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist whose works include Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... Dickens redirects here. ... Giacomo Puccini Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini (December 22, 1858 – November 29, 1924) is regarded as one of the great operatic composers of the late 19th and early 20th century. ... VERDI is an acronym for the Italian unification movement, named after the composer Giuseppe Verdi (ardent supporter of the movement) VERDI stands for Vittorio Emmanuelle, Re D Italia (Victor Emmanuel, King of Italy) Categories: Historical stubs ... The Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti (born October 12, 1935), is one of the most famous living opera singers. ... Nessun dorma is an aria from the final act of Giacomo Puccinis opera Turandot. ...

A third definition equates pop culture with Mass Culture. This is seen as a commercial culture, mass produced for mass consumption. From a U.K. (and European) point of view, this may be equated to American culture. Alternatively, "pop culture" can be defined as an "authentic" culture of the people, but this can be problematic because there are many ways of defining the "people." Storey argues that there is a political dimension to popular culture; neo-Gramscian hegemony theory "... sees popular culture as a site of struggle between the 'resistance' of subordinate groups in society and the forces of 'incorporation' operating in the interests of dominant groups in society." A postmodernism approach to popular culture would "no longer recognise the distinction between high and popular culture' Antonio Gramsci Antonio Gramsci (January 23, 1891 - April 27, 1937) was an Italian writer (ethnic Albanian by his father) and a politician, a leader and theorist of Socialism, Communism and anti-Fascism. ... Postmodernity (also called post-modernity or the postmodern condition) is a term used by philosophers, social scientists, art critics and social critics to refer to aspects of contemporary art, culture, economics and social conditions that are the result of the unique features of late 20th century and early 21st century...

Storey emphasises that popular culture emerges from the urbanisation of the industrial revolution, which identifies the term with the usual definitions of 'mass culture'. Studies of Shakespeare (by Weimann, Barber or Bristol, for example) locate much of the characteristic vitality of his drama in its participation in Renaissance popular culture, while contemporary practitioners like Dario Fo and John McGrath use popular culture in its Gramscian sense that includes ancient folk traditions (the commedia dell'arte for example). Shakespeare redirects here. ... This article is about the European Renaissance of the 14th-17th centuries. ... Dario Fo (born March 24, 1926) is an Italian satirist, playwright, theater director, actor, and composer. ... John Peter McGrath, (June 1, 1935 – January 22, 2002), was a Liverpudlian-Irish playwright who grew up in Wales and notably took up the cause of Scottish independence in his plays. ... Commedia redirects here. ...

Popular culture changes constantly and occurs uniquely in place and time. It forms currents and eddies, and represents a complex of mutually-interdependent perspectives and values that influence society and its institutions in various ways. For example, certain currents of pop culture may originate from, (or diverge into) a subculture, representing perspectives with which the mainstream popular culture has only limited familiarity. Items of popular culture most typically appeal to a broad spectrum of the public. Look up time in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... In sociology, anthropology and cultural studies, a subculture is a set of people with a set of behaviors and beliefs, culture, which could be distinct or hidden, that differentiate them from the larger culture to which they belong. ... Look up mainstream in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... General public redirects here. ...

Institutional promulgation

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. Both scholarly facts and news stories get modified through popular transmission, often to the point of outright falsehoods. 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. ... This article is about the profession. ... 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). ... Mount Isa, Australia, is often incorrectly referred to as the largest city in the world by area Toronto, Canada, was never designated by UNESCO as the worlds most multicultural city Factoid can refer to a spurious (unverified, incorrect, or invented) fact intended to create or prolong public exposure or... Panda Bear redirects here. ... Intestinal parasites are parasites that populate the gastro-intestinal tract. ...

Hannah Arendt's 1961 essay 'The Crisis in Culture' suggested that a "market-driven media would lead to the displacement of culture by the dictates of entertainment." [4] Susan Sontag argues that in our culture, the most "...intelligible, persuasive values are [increasingly] drawn from the entertainment industries", which is "undermining of standards of seriousness." As a result, "tepid, the glib, and the senselessly cruel" topics are becoming the norm. [5] Some critics argue that popular culture is “dumbing down”: "...newspapers that once ran foreign news now feature celebrity gossip, pictures of scantily dressed young ladies...television has replaced high-quality drama with gardening, cookery, and other “lifestyle” programmes...[and] reality TV and asinine soaps," to the point that people are constantly immersed in trivia about celebrity culture.[6]

In Rosenberg and White's book Mass Culture, MacDonald argues that " Popular culture is a debased, trivial culture that voids both the deep realities (sex, death, failure, tragedy) and also the simple spontaneous pleasures. . . . The masses, debauched by several generations of this sort of thing, in turn come to demand trivial and comfortable cultural products."[7] Van den Haag argues that "...all mass media in the end alienate people from personal experience and though appearing to offset it, intensify their moral isolation from each other, from reality and from themselves." He argues that mass media then lessens "...people's capacity to experience life itself." ."[8] Critics have lamented the ".. replacement of high art and authentic folk culture by tasteless industrialised artefacts produced on a mass scale in order to satisfy the lowest common denominator." [9] This "mass culture emerged after the Second World War and have led to the concentration of mass-culture power in ever larger global media conglomerates." The popular press decreased the amount of news or information that and replaced it with entertainment or titilation that reinforces "... fears, prejudice, scapegoating processes, paranoia, and aggression." [10]

Critics of television and film have argued that the quality of TV output has been diluted as stations relentlessly pursue "populism and ratings" by focusing on the "glitzy, the superficial, and the popular." In film, "Hollywood culture and values" are increasingly dominating film production in other countries. Hollywood films have changed from focusing on scriptwriting and dialogue to creating formulaic films which emphasize "...shock-value and superficial thrill[s]" and special effects, with themes that focus on the "...basic instincts of aggression, revenge, violence, [and] greed." The plots "...often seem simplistic, a standardised template taken from the shelf, and dialogue is minimal." The "characters are shallow and unconvincing, the dialogue is also simple, unreal, and badly constructed." [11]


Folklore provides a second and very different source of popular culture.[12] In pre-industrial times, mass culture equaled 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. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Popular culture, or pop culture, is the vernacular (peoples) culture that prevails in a modern society. ... Folk culture refers to the localized lifestyle of a subsistence or otherwise inward looking culture. ... A joke is a short story or ironic depiction of a situation communicated with the intent of being humorous. ... For other uses, see Slang (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Word of mouth (disambiguation). ...

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. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... For the animated cartoon named for this character, see SpongeBob SquarePants Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: SpongeBob SquarePants SpongeBob SquarePants is the eponymous character of the Nickelodeon animated series SpongeBob SquarePants. ... For other uses, see Word of mouth (disambiguation). ...


Owing to the pervasive and increasingly interconnected nature of popular culture, especially its intermingling of complementary distribution sources, some cultural anthropologists have identified the use of "popular culture within popular culture" as a distinct phenomenon. Literary and cultural critics have identified this as following the well-recognized but variegated concept of intertextuality. Intertextuality is the shaping of texts meanings by other texts. ...

One commentator has suggested this "self-referentiality" reflects the advancing encroachment of popular culture into every realm of collective experience. "Instead of referring to the real world, much media output devotes itself to referrring to other images, other narratives; self-referentiality is all-embracing, although it is rarely taken account of."[13]

Many cultural critics have dismissed this as merely a symptom or side-effect of mass consumerism, however alternate explanations and critique have also been offered. One critic asserts that it reflects a fundamental paradox: the increase in technological and cultural sophistication, combined with an increase in superficiality and dehumanization.[14] Consumerist redirects here. ...

Examples from American television

According to television scholars specializing in quality television such as Kristin Thompson, self-referentiality in mainstream American television (especially comedy) both reflects and exemplifies the type of progression characterized previously. Thompson [15] argues that shows such as The Simpsons use a "...flurry of cultural references, intentionally inconsistent characterization, and considerable self-reflexivity about television conventions and the status of the programme as a television show." [16] Extreme examples literally approach a kind of thematic infinite regress wherein the distinctions between art and life, commerce and critique, ridicule and homage become intractably blurred.[17] Quality TeleVision (QTV) is a television network of GMA Network, Inc. ... Simpsons redirects here. ... An infinite regress is a series of propositions arises if the truth of proposition P1 requires the support of proposition P2, and for any proposition in the series Pn, the truth of Pn requires the support of the truth of Pn+1. ...

Examples include:

  • Seinfeld a show premised on the concept that it is a "show about nothing." The main character of the show has the same name as the actor who plays the character. In one episode, the character George mocks this very premise directly by asking "Who will go for that crap?" Such self-derision represents an especially salient and humorous critique considering the relative success of the show.[18]
  • The Simpsons routinely alludes to mainstream media properties, as well as the commercial content of the show itself.[19] The show also invokes liberal reference to contemporary issues as depicted in the mainstream, and often merges such references with unconventional and even esoteric associations to classical and postmodernist works of literature, entertainment and art.[20]

Seinfeld is an Emmy Award-winning American sitcom that originally aired on NBC from July 5, 1989 to May 14, 1998, running a total of 9 seasons. ... Simpsons redirects here. ...

See also

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. ... For other uses, see Fashion (disambiguation). ... Low culture is a derogatory term for some forms of popular culture. ... For the British television series, see Pop Idol. ... American cultural icons. ... Pop-culture tourism is the act of traveling to locations featured in literature, film, music, or any other form of popular entertainment. ... Popular culture studies is the academic discipline studying popular culture. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... This article is considered orphaned, since there are very few or no other articles that link to this one. ...


  1. ^ Asa Berger, Arthur (1990). Agit-Pop: Political Culture and Communication Theory. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 0887383157. 
  2. ^ Bakhtin 1981, p.4
  3. ^ popeducation.org
  4. ^ http://nomuzak.co.uk/dumbing_down.html
  5. ^ http://nomuzak.co.uk/dumbing_down.html
  6. ^ http://nomuzak.co.uk/dumbing_down.html
  7. ^ http://nomuzak.co.uk/dumbing_down.html
  8. ^ Van den Haag, in Rosenberg and White, Mass Culture, p. 529. http://nomuzak.co.uk/dumbing_down.html
  9. ^ http://nomuzak.co.uk/dumbing_down.html
  10. ^ http://nomuzak.co.uk/dumbing_down.html
  11. ^ http://nomuzak.co.uk/dumbing_down.html
  12. ^ On the Ambiguity of the Three Wise Monkeys A. W. Smith Folklore, Vol. 104, No. 1/2 (1993), pp. 144-150
  13. ^ McRobbie, Angela (1994). Postmodernism and Popular Culture. Routledge. ISBN 0415077125.  Cultural anthropologist and feminist discourse on cultural studies.
  14. ^ Ralph Dumain, Cultural Sophistication and Self-Reference On American Television. Retrieved on 2007-04-22. An essay on self-referentiality and American television.
  15. ^ She is the author of Storytelling in Film and Television. Some of her other publications include Storytelling in the New Hollywood: Understanding Classical Narrative Technique (Harvard University Press, November 1999); Breaking the Glass Armor: Neoformalist Film Analysis (Princeton University Press, August 1988); and, as a co-author with David Bordwell; Film Art: An Introduction (McGraw-Hill College, January 2003); Film History: An Introduction (McGraw-Hill College, August 2002)
  16. ^ Thompson. Available at: http://www.kamera.co.uk/books/new_hollywood_cinema.html
  17. ^ (Dumain)
  18. ^ (Dumain)
  19. ^ In one episode, Bart, a character of the show complains about the crass commercialism of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade while watching television. When he turns his head away from the television, he is shown floating by as an oversized inflatable balloon.
  20. ^ (Dumain)

Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era in the 21st century. ... is the 112th day of the year (113th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... David Bordwell is a film scholar. ... Macys Day Parade redirects here. ...


  • Bakhtin, M. M. and Michael Holquist, Vadim Liapunov, Kenneth Brostrom. (1981) The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays (University of Texas Press Slavic Series). Ed. Michael Holquist. Trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Austin and London: University of Texas Press.
  • Storey, John Storey (2001). Pearson Education Limited

Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin (November 17, 1895 (new style)-1975) wrote influential works in literary theory and literary criticism. ... This article is about the floor of a room or building. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Popular culture - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1574 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.
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 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.
Category:Popular culture - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (196 words)
Popular culture, or pop culture is the vernacular (people's) culture that prevails in a modern society.
The content of popular culture is determined in large part by industries that disseminate cultural material, for example the film, television, and publishing industries, as well as the news media.
But popular culture cannot be described as just the aggregate product of those industries; instead, it is the result of a continuing interaction between those industries and the people of the society who consume their products.
  More results at FactBites »



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