Barbie: A Popular Culture Focus Study

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Barbie A Popular Culture focus study

A popular culture is a shared set of practices and benefits that have attained global acceptance, and which can be normally characterised by: being associated with commercial products; developing from a local to a national to a global level; allowing consumers to have widespread access to it and; is constantly changing and evolving.

As a focus study, it is seen that Barbie inherently displays such characteristics, and is therefore a legitimate popular culture. This being the case it must be observed that among other things, popular culture can react to and/or cause social change. In studying Barbie as a popular culture it became evident that Barbie has also exhibited such features. However, due to Barbie’s extensive popularity over both time and cultures, the social changes brought about by a simple toy, domestically created by Ruth Handler for her daughter Barbara (after whom the doll was named), have reached such a magnitude that in order to properly evaluate Barbie’s contribution to such a process, it must be broken down into levels of local, national and global.

At any level however, social change refers to alterations in social behaviour patterns over time. This can be brought about by changes to social processes, which impact on socialisation trends. Therefore it can be seen that not all change is for the better, and that there are positive and negative aspects of Barbie as a popular culture that have become a part of society.

Upon initial release, Barbie began instigating social change both positively and negatively. Barbie was created to satisfy the needs of young girls who wanted to act out their aspirations for adult life with a doll – a function that could not be carried out by the ‘baby’ dolls existent at the time. At a local level, that is, in the neighbourhood of the Handler’s, a catalyst for social change ensued with positive outcomes in that young girls were encouraged to aspire to be something

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