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Lecture Six: Critical Positions on Popular Culture

Theoretical discipline of cultural studies, the idea and notion of culture as a posed to popular culture, high vs. low, throw away culture or mass culture

Who decides what is important and what is not, how does this affect us, and the way we think and its social function

Culture is complex, Raymond Williams, complex works in the english language, hard to define culture, more definitions occur, a culture that people have or a rarified set of ideas, body of artistic works, process of intellectual production, in a society in a particular time

Marx, dialectical materialist method, firstly thinking about the base and the super structure, the base is the economic reality, tools and technology, forces, what are the societies labour relations, these make us the make up and reality of the society, everything else comes as a result of this base, laws, cultures, forms of consciousness, the way we think about the world, all as a result of the conditions of the base. All forms of culture, art, design are a direct reflex of the base

Social organization of society, this produces, law, religions, culture and politics in the form of superculture,

How capitalism produces capitalist culture, would be seen as determination

The dialectical method suggests culture suggests that the vase strengths supports and maintains the culture it has created, the superculture legitimizes the base conditions, Culture maintains capitalism

The base of pyramid, the workers, holding up the system and is also made up of the higher class society. This hold up the systems of law, religion, the state and politics, the army, but these maintain the system.

Culture is produced by the material reality of the world, if we have culture which is a product of the base, then what is popular culture? Popular culture, culture that s popular? But this is imprecise? Popular culture, people make value judgements, popular culture is inferior to base culture. Populism, culture that aims to be popular for commercialist ideas and goals. Popular culture can also been seen as culture made by culture made by the masses for the masses.

A street, organic culture that graffiti or hip hop, what happens when this gets stolen by culture? Is graffiti or is it art? Is culture or popular culture?

A class divide between culture and popular culture, that can be taken back to a specific moment in history, in the mid 19th century, ‘The Making of the english working class’ In this period, heavy industrialization, heavy industry, process of urbanization, the growth of the city, a hyper development of hyper capitalism. Very clear class divides started to emerge, mass factory work, clear who were the workers and the bosses. Clear who the rich and poor were, this was physically visible, working class areas, and high class areas, Physical divide. Before this there was a shared common culture, for all the country but in reality on the elite made this culture, the aristocracy made this because they didn't have to work, so in reality culture has always been produced by the rich, but this created an illusion that it was for all. Organically because of the forced separation of the class, due to the need for profit, culture was never made for profit, but now it begins to be created in the ideal of profit. High class still thought culture had nothing to do with money, but in working class culture political and class writing began to emerge, this made by people for people, with a political edge. Culture for masses by the masses.

Matthew Arnold ‘Culture and Anarchy’ a man from the ruling class, tired to define culture and what is great about culture, it is the most important thing in the world, the ultimate achievements of man kind, the perfection. Culture is disinterested, it is more important than the day to day running of the world, or anything to do with agenda is not culture. ‘Minister the diseased spirit of our times’ the world wouldn't be such a horrible place if everyone cared about the things the higher class cared about and not care about the mass popular culture that people were producing, this is like a disease as he refers to it.

Popular culture is a de-based form of real culture, a ghost in people’s judgements of popular culture even today.

Leavisism, with the growth of industrial capitalism, hollywood, all forms of popular culture, throughout the 20th century the world has been in a decline into the gutter, and away from the beautiful intellectual culture and society, as culture has become mass produced its become more insignificant and become a downwards spiral, return to a situation where ‘Culture has always been in a minority keeping’ this is because the elite has been challenged with collapse in there power.

Frankfurt School - critical theory, equally critical of popular culture but from an opposite position, engage with a study of popular culture, when they went to new york, they saw the high point of popular culture, radio city, hollywood, celebrities, new forms of popular culture. They argued that popular culture was not a threat to culture, it maintains social system that we live in and perpetuates and strengthens the system of capitalism, its a tool in which capitalism can employ to perpetuate itself.

Culture is now produced under anything that is as a result from the base and superculture. All these cultural forms turn out the same thing, with minor differences, every is pre scripted and pre digested. This is making profit for big businesses, people are sucked into a vacuum where something is newer and better, but it really all broadly the same. One song after another, people are feed a monotonous stream of rubbish, when people are feed this endless stream of the same thing, people get no options, its broadly the same this then reduces peoples ability to think and broaden there views, this then supports the system and make them into an affirmative society. Teaches prescribed attitudes and way of thinking about the world, creating incorrect and false view of the world, this makes people one-dimensional, we have limited view, more like zombies rather than being people that are multi fasciated. Culture acts as a flog and a blankets over real society, making it like the world is ok, but really it is not. Popular culture therefore serves to depoliticize us, it stops us rebelling.

Culture industry, mass culture that churns out mass commodities. The x factor as a product of the culture, that disguises the reality of the world and creates an affirmative culture.

Adorno on popular music

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