Summary of Cultural Theory and Popular Culture

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The first chapter of the book entitled Cultural Theory and Popular Culture basically tackles the concept of culture as well as popular culture. The first part tends to discuss the definition of culture as used by different scholars. It has been mentioned that culture is difficult to define and that it is a broad concept to reckon with. The concept of popular culture is also very difficult to define compared to other related concepts such as folk culture, dominant culture, and mass culture.

In addition, the second topic being discussed is the ideology. The term ideology was included in the first chapter because it is crucial in the concept of popular culture. Ideology is also defined as a systematic body of ideas espoused by specific groups as well as a concealment or distortion of various ideas. After the term ideology was discussed, the concept of popular culture was discussed. The basic definition of culture is that it is a culture which is well-liked or desired by the people. For instance, one way of knowing that a specific music is linked to a popular culture is by looking into the sales of CD, DVD, and as well as concert tickets. Popular culture is also difficult to define because of what the author referred to as the absent others which means other factors related to the concept but are difficult to analyze.

The first point in the chapter is the definition of culture. Storey provided various definitions of culture by different scholars such as Raymond Williams who defined the term as a general process of intellectual, spiritual, and aesthetic development. Culture is also defined as a specific way of life or the customs of the people and as well as signifying practices. It has been emphasized by the author that the term culture is hard to define knowing the different interpretations of its broad concept.

The second point espoused by Storey is the concept of ideology which is crucial in the study of popular culture. It is also considered as the most conceptual aspect in the study of culture. It has also various competing meanings like the term culture. The first definition of ideology is that it is a set of ideas as articulated by a group of individuals and expressed by them. Another definition of the term is that it is a distortion or a masking of ideas. In line with that, ideology is also a power relations for some groups of individuals and this time the term is understood in a general sense. This would lead us to the third definition of ideology which has something to do with ideological forms. These ideological forms include television, fiction, pop songs, novels and as well as feature films. These ideological forms could affect the audience and result to various consequences that has something to do with cultural development. Thus, ideology is related to the term culture in such a way that it could be interchanged and used as an additional explanation. The only difference between culture and ideology is that the latter touches more on the political aspect of things and the former is basically lodged on cultural development.

The third point is the concept of popular culture as explained by the author. Popular culture is also defined as a set of thoughts and practices of individuals. On the part of author, he gave several definitions of popular culture amidst the fact that it admits different interpretations. The first definition of popular culture is that it is a culture that is highly-favored by many people. The second definition of culture is that it is culture that is left over after we have determined the high culture. Here, popular culture is considered an inferior culture due to the presence of high culture. In other words, those aspects of culture that cannot be defined under high culture will only be considered a popular culture. As a residual factor of high culture, popular culture includes value judgment on specific text or practices then.


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