Sociology Index E-Books

MASS CULTURE

Fashion Culture, Consumer Culture, Counterculture

Mass culture refers to how culture gets produced, whereas popular culture refers to how culture gets consumed. Mass culture is culture which is mass produced, distributed, and marketed.

"Mass Culture" is a set of cultural values and ideas that arise from common exposure of a population to the same cultural activities, communications media, music and art, etc. Mass culture becomes possible only with modern communications and electronic media. A mass culture is transmitted to individuals, rather than arising from people's daily interactions, and therefore lacks the distinctive content of cultures rooted in community and region.

Mass culture tends to reproduce the liberal value of individualism and to foster a view of the citizen as consumer. Adorno was among the radical critics of mass culture. Adorno developed a critical methodology to analyze the production, texts, and reception of the artifacts of what became known as "popular culture," thus anticipating the approach of later forms of "cultural studies."

Adorno’s extended conception of ‘culture industry’ renders the usual criticism of his views as ‘elitist’ meaningless.

Along with Max Horkheimer, Adorno developed in Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947) the first critical theory which discerned the crucial roles of mass culture and communication in contemporary capitalist societies. 

In modern Russia, mass culture is diffused through and by mass-media, especially television foreign models and patterns predominate. The values and models of behavior disseminated by the mass media in Russia are those of success, family, human emotions, solidarity in the struggle against obstacles, romance.

The Bohemianization of Mass Culture - Elizabeth Wilson, University of North London, UK 
International Journal of Cultural Studies, Vol. 2, No. 1, 11-32 (1999)
This article charts the development of the idea of 'bohemia' and the 'bohemian' from its emergence in the 1830s to the present day. I suggest that whereas the discourse surrounding bohemianism was one of authenticity versus the falseness and commercialization of mass culture, the figure of the bohemian was always discursively produced in popular culture from Henry Murger onwards, bohemians becoming the subject matter of numerous salon paintings, popular fiction, films and journalism. It is further argued that far from being extinct, bohemian values of expressiveness, sexual experimentation, radicalism and an aesthetic approach to life have become the mainstay of mass culture. This raises the question of whether the contested divide between 'High Art' and 'Mass Culture', much debated within cultural studies since the 1970s, is still as salient as we assume.

Meaning and Mass Culture: The Search for a New Literacy - Tim Vincent 
Journal of Communication Inquiry, Vol. 23, No. 2, 152-162 (1999) © 1999 SAGE Publications
The present mass culture can be characterized by its resistance to meaning or, perhaps more accurately, its resistance to a clear separation between information and meaning. A central goal of literacy education will be to develop minds that can create meaning, not merely become more proficient at processing received information. Faced with the trend toward corporate takeover of culture—begun in earnest in the 1930s and reaching global proportions today—where can educators turn for help in the search for a new literacy that can begin to address the struggle for control of culture that will be a central issue for democratic societies in the years ahead?

Adorno and Mass Culture: Autonomous Art Against the Culture Industry 
György Markus, University of Sydney - Thesis Eleven, Vol. 86, No. 1, 67-89 (2006)
Adorno’s extended conception of ‘culture industry’ renders the usual criticism of his views as ‘elitist’ meaningless. The same expansion creates, however, logical strains and contradictions in his analysis of the character and function of the culture industry: a strain in its ‘psychosocial’ and ‘status compulsion’ interpretation. In his late work Adorno attempts to solve this contradiction, but at a heavy price, by creating a conceptual barrier between pleasure and happiness.

Soviet Sport and Transnational Mass Culture in the 1930s 
Barbara Keys, Woodrow Wilson International Center's Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies in Washington DC. 
Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 38, No. 3, 413-434 (2003) © 2003 SAGE Publications
As an international system of competitive, achievement-oriented sport developed into one of the interwar period's most potent carriers of transnational mass culture, the Soviet Union initially chose not to participate. Ideologically hostile toward capitalist internationalism and suspicious of international cultural influences, the Soviet regime instead attempted to create an alternative international system of `proletarian sport' that eschewed record-seeking and individualism. In the 1930s, however, the political benefits of participation in `capitalist' sport (including the opportunity to influence foreign public opinion and to project images of national power) drew the Soviet Union into participation.

Terminators, Monkeys and Mass Culture: The carnival of time in science fiction films 
Angela Dimitrakaki, University of Southampton, UK 
Miltos Tsiantis, University of Oxford, UK 
Time & Society, Vol. 11, No. 2-3, 209-231 (2002)
Our contention is that the current fascination with the time travel motif can be understood in terms of an oppositional cultural narrative running counter to dominant forms of temporality within capitalism. Such a reading allows us to negotiate the wide (mass) appeal of films based on the time travel motif without resorting to the primal scene fantasy. Our argument challenges the views which dismiss mass culture as merely escapist. Specifically, we argue that the potentially subversive element of time travel films lies precisely in a particular conceptualization and experience of time and history as cyclical and in flux. This understanding of time is antithetical to the temporalities generated within late capitalist societies where time emerges as both linear and fragmented. Through the reading of films such as 12 Monkeys, Terminator and others we attempt to show that time in this context entails a possibility of intervention in history (both personal and social) and is presented as non-linear and non-teleological.

Effective Democracy, Mass Culture, and the Quality of Elites: The Human Development Perspective - Christian Welzel 
International University Bremen (IUB), School of Humanities and Social Sciences, P.O. Box 750 561, D - 22725 Bremen, Germany - International Journal of Comparative Sociology, Vol. 43, No. 3-5, (2002)
This article demonstrates that low corruption and high female representation are two characteristics of elite quality that go closely together and help make "formal" democracy increasingly "effective." However, the quality of elites is not an inherently independent phenomenon but is shaped by a pervasive mass factor: rising self-expression values that shift cultural norms toward greater emphasis on responsive and inclusive elites. Self-expression values, in turn, tend to be strengthened by growing human resources among the masses. Considered in a comprehensive perspective, these various components are linked through the emancipative logic of Human Development: (1) human resources, (2) self-expression values, (3) elite quality, and (4) effective democracy all contribute to widen the scope of human autonomy and choice in several aspects of people’s lives, including their means and skills, their norms and values, as well as their institutions and rights.

Cultural Preservation Reconsidered: The case of Canadian aboriginal art 
B.R. Sharma, Singapore Polytechnic College, Singapore 
Critique of Anthropology, Vol. 19, No. 1, 53-61 (1999)
Hybrid art forms are emerging more than ever now that advances in global communication link the world's societies. James Clifford, Trinh T. Minh-Ha, Valerie Dominguez and other eminent scholars champion such hybrid culture. They argue that it leads to greater acceptance of others and otherness, and destroys notions of 'others' as aesthetically unsophisticated. While there is merit in such claims, this article sheds a different light on the nature of hybrid culture. It argues that in some instances, such culture is the by-product of cultural imperialism - first-world socio-economic and cultural policies imposed on 'Second' and 'Third World' communities. The article concentrates on the dichotomy between native Canadian and Anglo-American Canadian mass culture and adopts Minh-Ha's claim that a First World and a Third World can exist in the same country.

INTELLIGENZIA BETWEEN CLASSIC AND MASS CULTURE
Boris Dubin, Russian Centre for Public Opinion and Market Research
During the latest years the so-called thick literary magazines and newspapers with a similar profile have actively criticized mass culture . At the same time, one can hear calls about the necessity of keeping intact the legacy of high culture, as represented by the Bolshoi Theater and the Russian Museum. These tendencies represent the result of long-term social and cultural processes.
In modern Russia, mass culture is diffused through and by mass-media, especially television foreign models and patterns predominate. The values and models of behavior disseminated by the mass media in Russia are those of success, family, human emotions, solidarity in the struggle against obstacles, romance. These ideas are conditioned by the notions of a stable society, the importance of the here and now, the gratification achieved today.
Mass culture, especially its foreign patterns, possesses its own idea of what constitutes an individual. This is a person who is ready to live and behave "like everybody else" and who also distinguishes himself from socially contiguous minority and resists alien mass culture, though not because he values or has access to high culture, but rather, because he needs to affirm his own self and establish himself within the framework of the prevalent, normative behavior.
In today’s Russia, mass culture is rejected by social groups who, in the process of disintegration of the Soviet system, are losing their authority and dominant position as the carriers of culture. Their claim is that mass culture is of low quality, that its significance is limited merely to entertaining, that it is not serious, that exposure to it makes people torpid and leads society to degradation, that its basis is the power of money, a Western notion, alien to the Russian culture.

Bernard Rosenberg and David Manning White (1957) editors, Mass Culture (Glencoe, Ill. The Free Press.)

Meaning of Mass Culture and Bohemianization of Mass Culture.