Pop Culture and Society

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Pop culture and society
Przemysław Dworzyński

Pop culture, or popular culture is by dictionary defined as “cultural activities or commercial products reflecting, suited to, or aimed at the tastes of the general masses of people”. The term “popular culture” came into existence in the 19th century or earlier. Traditionally, the term has meant the education and general cultural awareness of the lower classes, as opposed to the "official culture". The stress in the distinction from "official culture" became more pronounced towards the end of the 19th century, a usage that became established by the Interwar period. Since the end of World War II, following major cultural and social changes brought by mass media innovations, the meaning of popular culture started to decline with those of mass, media, image, consumer culture, and culture for mass consumption. A pioneer in this movement were social and cultural changes in the United States of America. The abbreviated form "pop" for popular, as in pop music, dates from the late 1950s. (Betts 2004: 14-27) Sociologists consider culture as the formation of traditions and trends that link humans in a common group. Therefore, human culture existed even in prehistoric societies; however, those prehistoric societies' tradition and arts are generally considered as folk art and folkways. Popular culture requires that the masses should be practicing and consuming it, thereby making it popular. (Weaver 2009: 12) The Western world's first commonly recognized pop culture artist was probably William Shakespeare. His theater plays are timeless classics, but he wrote them for a mass audience, thanks to which he fulfilled pop culture's requirement of art, which is meant to be enjoyed by the masses. Shakespeare's art bridged the gap between popular and fine art in the 16th century England - and it is still considered the finest literature ever produced in English. Several of his plays were set in other...
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