Value of Popular Culture
Jim and Pam got married, Ke$ha brushes her teeth with whiskey, and Lady Gaga ponders if we are actually born predisposed to be weird. No matter where you look, we are surrounded by pop culture. Popular culture is a sub-culture that is often mocked and scrutinized as not being meaningful or significant, pop culture is seen as what is considered “cool” at the moment in time, and carries no long-term effects on society or culture as a whole. Emile Durkheim once said “For Sociology really to be a science of things, the generality of phenomena must be taken as the criterion of their normality.” In the same book, He argues for the functions of crime in society, I believe that these functions are the same functions that popular culture has in society. In brief, these functions are to produce social norms, establish social boundaries, create rituals that generate social solidarity, generate innovation, and pave the way for social change. It is important to identify what “pop culture” is identified as, seeing as how it can be used in several different ways. When I refer to pop culture, I mean so in the commercial culture sense. Commercial culture produces a product in order to generate a profit.
Allow us first to examine the way popular culture produces social norms. In the book The Dominant Ideology Thesis, the authors argue that mass media is the key by which ideas of the dominant class is spread to the rest of society. I believe this view is crucial to understanding how popular culture produces social norms. For example, let’s use what we wear as a way to show how social norms are produce. The fashion industry tells us what to wear in magazines and advertisements, these norms are reinforced over and over again by television, actors, film, musicians, and celebrities who embrace the fashion trends. Stores begin to only sell a certain type of clothing, and it becomes increasingly more difficult to not conform to the fashion norm....
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