Traditional theories of popular culture[ edit ] The theory of mass society[ edit ] Mass society formed during the 19th-century industrialization process through the division of laborthe large-scale industrial organization, the concentration of urban populations, the growing centralization of decision making, the development of a complex and international communication system and the growth of mass political movements. The term "mass society", therefore, was introduced by anticapitalistaristocratic ideologists and used against the values and practices of industrialized society. Theories of popular culture are often subjected to bias and originate from a generalist perspective. As Alan Swingewood points out in The Myth of Mass Culture,  the aristocratic theory of mass society is to be linked to the moral crisis caused by the weakening of traditional centers of authority such as family and religion.
Europe, to Few theoretical concepts are as value-laden as popular culture, and defining it can be likened to entering a minefield.
And yet, it has proved a resilient and useful tool for assessing the attitudes and beliefs of the nonliterate masses in early modern society. From the onset, however, one should be aware of the limitations and theoretical problems associated with its use and misuse in the past.
The closest contemporary equivalent of "the people" would have been the Third Estate or the commoners, a social conglomeration of urban burghers and rural peasants, as well as any other persons belonging neither to the nobility nor the clergy. One common allegory of contemporary social structure is the famous Leviathan of Thomas Hobbes —which depicted society as the torso of the king, itself composed of thousands of people, his subjects.
In this allegory, the rulers and clergy made up the head, the noble warriors the arms, and the masses the visceral lower body parts. After experiencing the horrors perpetrated during the wars of religion in the sixteenth century, the Neostoic author on statecraft, Justus Lipsius —wrote to compare the undisciplined mob to a headless body and popular protest to mass insanity.
The discovery or "invention" of the people as a group worthy of study is attributed to a group of German intellectuals at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries Burke.
One of the earliest philosophical justifications for a scholarly interest in the culture of the common people Kultur des Volkes was offered by Johann Gottfried Herder —who consciously juxtaposed it with learned culture Kultur der Gelehrten.
Widespread interest followed as European folklorists flocked to the countryside to save the oral tradition of the preindustrial peasantry from oblivion. In the process, Romantic scholars embellished the occasionally unsavory content of folk tales and songs. At the time, scholars also tended to conflate the early modern period with the Middle Agesand traditional customs and rituals were dubbed "medieval.
The long-standing identification of the popular will with national identity since Jean-Jacques Rousseau — has led to the exploitation of popular culture studies by nationalists, racists, populists, and communists alike. The association of folk studies Volkskunde with the National Socialist dictatorship marginalized cultural anthropology and ethnography in post-war Germany.
The Marxist Antonio Gramsci expressed faith in the culture of the people as a means to exercise discontent and protest against a hegemonic ruling elite.
However, not until "pop" culture in art and music began to symbolize grass roots protest during the s did popular culture studies succeed in entering into the mainstream of scholarly debate. Detractors have subsequently labeled radical research on popular culture "PC" in pejorative association with "political correctness," originally a prejudicial policy to weed out the middle classes under Stalinism.
One crass example of the abuse of early modern popular culture studies is the case of nine million witch burnings. Briefly, in an attack on medieval barbarism, an enlightened archivist fancifully concocted a mythical figure of nine million people burned during the European witch craze.
Anti-Catholic authors revived this fantastic claim during the nineteenth-century Kulturkampf in Germany. Later, credulous Nazi propagandists proclaimed that the statistic evidenced a racist persecution perpetrated on Nordic Aryan people by evil Mediterraneans through the office of the Holy Inquisition.
During the s, several authors and journalists uncritically cited the very same Nazi authors to denounce the slaughter of nine million innocent women at the hands of misogynist theologians. Today, scholars of popular culture have successfully revealed these claims for the groundless exaggerations they are Behringer.
In fact, we now know beyond a reasonable doubt that: The case of nine million witches demonstrates the continuing importance of popular culture studies not only to correct the glorification of history from the top down, but also to avoid the pitfalls of hackneyed eulogizing of "the people" and romanticized history from the bottom up.
A further theoretical complication is that the term "culture" is also ambivalent. A dialectic or conflict model is the most common method to overcome this inadequacy.
As a representative of this dialectical tradition, Robert Redfield — emphasized the divisive nature of the "great tradition" elite or official culture and the "little tradition" plebian or unofficial cultureechoing Herder's distinction between popular and learned culture.
The Jesuit Michel De Certeau — juxtaposed the relevant advantages and disadvantages facing the ruling elite and the ruled in a class-struggle model, employing the blatantly militant terms "strategy" extensive application of great resources for long-term effect and "tactics" intensive maximization of limited resources with limited permanency.
Modernist ethnographers tend to define culture in relational terms as a communicative system for the transmission of ideas, rather than enduring institutions or structures. In this sense, popular culture is viewed as one form of expressive culture that plays a crucial role in power struggles to negotiate meaning in everyday life Little.
There are also many contradictory claims regarding the mechanisms of popular culture. Clearly, the view of early folklorists that popular culture is unchanging, not artificial and unadulterated by exogenous influence, is romantic and no longer tenable Greenblatt. Proponents of dialectical materialism as well as supporters of the Annales paradigm a historical movement in twentieth-century France generally view even supernatural aspects of popular culture as contingent upon material circumstances Scribner.
Contrarily, Michel Foucault has reflected on the marginalization of folly and its transformation into madness as a product of discourses. He depicts the development of a system of social discipline, the "Great Confinement" of undesirables, as a power struggle played out in largely arbitrary and individualized discourses to gain control over cultural meanings.
The Italian historian Carlo Ginzburg seeks the origins of early modern popular culture as an egalitarian tradition in the pre-Christian heritage of Indo-European languages, while the German historian Peter Blickle points to the late medieval origins of communalism.
Again, popular culture studies serve to remind us that traditions evolve and culture is always changing in relationship to historical contexts. Ultimately, the exact nature of popular culture is so difficult to pin down because it is applied in broad terms, to include ritual, art, literature, and cosmology.Popular culture studies is the academic discipline studying popular culture from a critical theory perspective.
It is generally considered as a combination of communication studies and cultural studies.
As the ‘culture of the people’, popular culture is determined by the interactions between people in their everyday activities: styles of dress, the use of slang, greeting rituals and the foods that people eat are all examples of popular culture. Littell, McDougal.
The Americans Reconstruction to the 21st Century. In the s a lot changed. People had cars, radios and movies.
In this time woman were able to vote and drinking was illegal. Music and art was a big thing along with the radio.
The first auto mobile was made in the s. In the.
Popular culture. The indifference to politics and to the larger social concerns of the s was reflected as well in the popular culture of the decade.
In contrast to the prosperity of the Roaring Twenties, the s emphasized simplicity and thrift. The most common pop culture categories are: entertainment (movies, music, TV), sports, news (as in people/places in news), politics, fashion/clothes and technology.
Slang, has also become popular in our culture as each year seems to have its own slang signature, especially with tweens and teens. The meaning of popular culture then began to merge with that of mass culture, consumer culture, image culture, media culture and culture for mass consumption.
John Storey and Popular Culture There are two opposing sociological arguments in relation to popular culture.