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Popular Culture

In this paper it is necessary to discuss the topic connected with popular culture and prove a claim that popular culture is a useful expression of society and the prevailing environment.

First of all it is necessary to say that popular culture – is a specific field of culture that is available for understanding by the representatives of all social strata and groups. It has received wide publicity during the last century and became the main topic of many debates in our environment. Some researchers stated that popular culture is trivial and transient part of our life, but it is absolutely wrong supposition (Wetzstein, 2002). According to Schroeder popular culture is inherent in the reliance on generally accepted events (in social and aesthetic sense); moreover, it appeals to everyday consciousness, and needs no special knowledge and skills for its understanding (Schroeder, 1980).

Thinking about the place of popular culture in our life we can mention that it can be considered the way of adaptation of various traditional humanistic ideals and values, which dominate in modern culture, to the needs of particular social groups or society as a whole. It contains the axiological universe, which can be claimed by mass and elite culture (Chidester, 2007). However, unlike mass culture, popular culture is focused on creating a form that meets the needs of a person and can update the traditional sense of culture by updating its content and essence. Thus, comparing both mass and popular culture we see that they are observed as functionally and substantially autonomous types of culture. Popular culture precedes to mass culture in historical sense, and, however, popular culture also continues to co-exist with mass culture in today’s cultural space (Browne, 1980). The subject of our discussion is distinguished from mass culture by the absence of its original focus on the involvement into the commercial industry, and its natural, but not specially synthesized popularity also occupies its deserved place in our world.

Explaining the way how popular culture is a useful expression of society and the prevailing environment we can emphasize that popular culture is closer than any other kind of culture to images, language, and the ideals of national (traditional) culture. It is obvious that popular culture reflects the myths and benchmarks of national consciousness in more realistic way.

In addition to previously observed facts we can state that popular culture is also sometimes characterized by its monofunctionality. For example, traditional culture serves as a way to pass meaningful social experience, and considered to be the mechanism of socialization and regulation, as well as recreational mechanism that performs ceremonial functions. Discussing popular culture we see that it, in its turn, serves chiefly as a culture of leisure, but this monofunctionality does not lessen its recreational and educative character. Nachbar & Lause described the process of its study in the next way: “Ultimately, it should become clear that the ‘serious’ study of popular culture has an ironic effect: it makes popular culture more fun. It enables one to become a detective with the world’s most interesting mystery to solve—the hidden mystery of a culture’s beliefs and values. The clues are all around—let’s begin looking at them” (Nachbar & Lause, 1992). And their words allows us to be sure that even being a ‘culture for fun’ popular culture is an important part of our life, making it better and more interesting.

In conclusion, we have discussed popular culture in the body of this paper and it became understandable that popular culture is not only a useful expression of society, but it also has its important mission, which can be defined in the next way: to be a mediator between people and to be a bridge that effectively brings together mass and elite culture.


Works cited:

Browne, R. Rituals and Ceremonies in Popular Culture. Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1980.
Buhle, P. & Wagner, D. “The Left and Popular Culture: Film and Television”. Monthly Review, Vol. 54, July 2002.
Chidester, D. “Authentic Fakes: Religion and American Popular Culture”. Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, Vol. 15, 2007.
Giroux, H. & Simon, R. Popular Culture, Schooling, and Everyday Life. Bergin & Garvey, 1989.
Hall, D. “Gag Gifts: Borders of Intimacy in American Popular Culture”. Journal of American and Comparative Cultures, Vol. 24, 2001.
Nachbar, J. & Lause, K. Popular Culture: An Introductory Text. Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1992.
Schroeder, F. 5000 Years of Popular Culture: Popular Culture before Printing. Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1980.
Wetzstein, C. “Parents See Tough Moral Rival in Popular Culture”. The Washington Times, October 31, 2002.