Historically, consumer society” (). Some scholars argue that media

Historically, popular culture
tended to be affiliated with lower levels of education and class whereas the “official
culture” or “high culture” was linked to higher levels of learning and social class.

Today, it is widely known that popular culture can be defined and analyzed in
various forms due to its constantly shifting perception within the world. As a
result, it is crucial to clearly identify and interpret the meaning of ‘culture’
and ‘ideology’ before fully comprehending popular culture. A basic starting
position to defining popular culture would be to say that “… popular culture is
simply culture that is widely favored or well-liked by many people” (Storey,
pg. 5). With this, Williams (1983) proposes four prevalent meanings for popular
culture: “‘… well-liked by many people’; ‘inferior kinds of work’; ‘work
deliberately setting out to win favor with the people’; ‘culture actually made
by the people for themselves'” (Storey, pg. 5). Over the years, the world has
become so immensely submerged “… from cradle to grave in a media and consumer
society” (). Some scholars argue that media culture lays the foundation and
acts as a conduit for individuals and communities to discover and forge their
own sense of identities and meanings. However, media culture can have a dark
and mischievous agenda by indoctrinating and manipulating individuals in order
to maintain hegemony within the ‘elite’.

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Over the past several years,
popular culture has presented to be a highly argued and challenged concept.

According to A.N. Valdivia, scholars have disputed that popular culture “… is
an empty concept, filled at different times by different people for different
purposes” (Valdivia). It is made apparent that people’s definitions will
constantly vary due to their changing perception of the terms ‘culture’, ‘ideology’
and even ‘popular’. When addressing popular culture, culture is considered a
particular way of life and as signifying practices within a society. The
concept of popular culture has been manipulated by the educated and higher social
classes in order to maintain their control and authority over ideology by
designating “good/high” and “bad/inferior” culture. In many cases, the term is
utilized as a major descriptor “… of the intellect and/or… class distinctions
and associations with refinement through class and educational changes…”
(Jenkins, pg. 27). With this, ‘culture’ tends to signify the cultivation of the
more educated and elite life style rather than the lower classes and the realm
of the ‘popular’. Another term that bears understanding is ‘ideology’ and like
culture, it has varying definitions and meanings as well. Ideology and culture
span much of the same conceptual landscape, but within the various definitions,
ideology encompasses the political element to the shared territory. Thus, the
relationship of politics and power unavoidably signify the ideology and culture
landscape. This presents the extent of the relation between politics and ideology
and how the elite maintain their position at the top by keeping a tight grip on
ideology authority. Overall, the relationship of culture and ideology largely
contributes to the understanding of popular culture and is thus, “… a site
where ‘collective social understandings are created’: a terrain on which ‘the
politics of signification’ are played out in attempts to win people to particular
ways of seeing the world” (Storey, pg. 4).

            Media culture such as the radio, movies
and films, television programs and other productions of mass media predominantly
contribute to the way in which people construct their individual identities and
sense of selfhood. According to Douglas Kellner, his interpretation of the
media is “… often profound and often misperceived source of cultural pedagogy:
They contribute to educating us how to behave and what to think and feel,
believe, fear and desire – and what not to do” (Kellner, pg. 7). Within media
culture, it is common to present those who possess power and those who present
to be powerless and thus, who is authorized to use force and violence on those
who are forced to stay in their places or be oppressed (Kellner, pg.7). With
this, the concept of “hegemony” is introduced and alludes to the way in which
dominant groups in society seek to win consent of inferior groups in society (Storey,
pg. 10). Some scholars have disputed that media culture only attempts to mirror
the ideology of the reigning economic class that control the culture production
and acts as nothing more than an instrument for capitalist beliefs. Due to the
ruling elite class’s power and control over the many media outlets and
organizations, they reveal that the specific materials presented to individuals
through media only benefits the upper class’s agenda. According to Stuart Hall,
“What they ‘produce’ is, precisely, representations of the social world,
images, descriptions, explanations, frames for understanding how the world is
and why it works…” (Hall, pg. 82). A common example would be the television
programs that attempt to solve a problem related to race. It seems that a
majority of the tools utilized in the programs are saturated with words and
images that are unconsciously racially charged. These tools are based off of
stereotypes and assumptions of people of color and in a way, informs the
audience that people of color are specifically the problem as opposed to the
dominant group.

            In conclusion, popular and media
culture are immensely interwoven into each other and proves how media plays a
large and controlling role in the production and representation of popular
culture. In addition, popular culture carries numerous definitions and
meanings, it is vital to keep in mind the various interpretations of “culture”
and “ideology” by individuals. Although media culture manipulates and brainwashes
their audience into a submissive state, “… media culture can empower
individuals to resist the dominant meanings in media cultural products and to
produce their own meanings” (Kellner, pg. 9). Thus, the study of culture
emerged in hopes of enabling the submissive individuals to refuse media manipulation
and develop their own sense of individuality and freedom. 


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