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Popular Culture. Chapter 8 The Human Mosaic. Characteristics of popular culture . Constantly changing Based in large, heterogeneous groups of people Based mainly in urban areas Material goods mass-produced by machines in factories Prevailing money economy. Recreation and clothing.

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Popular culture

Popular Culture

Chapter 8

The Human Mosaic


Characteristics of popular culture
Characteristics of popular culture

  • Constantly changing

  • Based in large, heterogeneous groups of people

  • Based mainly in urban areas

  • Material goods mass-produced by machines in factories

  • Prevailing money economy



Characteristics of popular culture1
Characteristics of popular culture

  • More numerous individual relationships, but less personal

  • Weaker family structure

  • Distinct division of labor with highly specialized professions and jobs

  • Considerable leisure time available to most people

  • Police, army, and courts take the place of family and church in maintaining order



Popular culture1
Popular culture

  • If a single hallmark of popular culture exists, it is change

    • Words such as growth, progress, fad, and trend crop up frequently in newspapers and conversations

    • Some people unable to cope with fast change

    • Change can lead to insecurity expressed in the term future shock

    • Vast majority of people in developed countries belong to the popular culture


Popular culture2
Popular culture

  • If a single hallmark of popular culture exists, it is change

    • Contributions to the spread of popular culture

      • Industrialization

      • Urbanization

      • Rise of formal education

      • Resultant increase in leisure time

    • All the reasons popular culture spread caused folk culture to retreat


Placelessness anywhere usa
Placelessness: Anywhere USA

  • Without the sign, we would not know if these were houses, apartments, or condos.

  • Their style is no style; a sense of sameness pervades.

  • Nothing sets these structures apart as being in a particular place; this is placelessness.


Placelessness anywhere usa1
Placelessness: Anywhere USA

  • In fact, the complex is in suburban Columbus, Ohio otherwise known as “Test Market USA.”

  • Because the demographic character of Columbus offers a representative cross section of American society, it is an appropriate place to try out new products.

  • Most fast food menus are tested here.


Popular culture3
Popular culture

  • If a single hallmark of popular culture exists, it is change

    • We and our recent ancestors embraced the free, open, dynamic life-style offered by popular culture

    • Science challenged religion for dominance in our daily lives

    • We profited greatly in material terms through this transition

    • In reality, all culture presents a continuum on which popular and folk represent extreme forms


Popular culture4
Popular culture

  • If a single hallmark of popular culture exists, it is change

    • Many graduations between the two are possible

    • Disadvantages become apparent as one moves toward the popular end of the continuum

      • We forfeited much in discarding folkways

      • Popular culture is not superior

      • We weaken both family structure and interpersonal relationships

      • Tne prominent cultural geographer has said of popular culture “only two (things) would I dislike to give up: inside plumbing and medical advances.”


Popular culture5
Popular culture

  • Popular Culture Regions

  • Diffusion in Popular Culture

  • The Ecology of Popular Culture

  • Cultural Integration in Popular Culture

  • Landscapes of Popular Culture


Placelessness or clustering
Placelessness or clustering?

  • Superficially, popular culture appears to vary less areally than folk culture

  • Canadian geographer Edward Relph’s proposal

    • Popular culture produces a profound placelessness

    • A spatial standardization that diminishes cultural variety

    • Demeans the human spirit

  • James Kunstler speaks of “geography of nowhere” in describing America

    • One place become much like another, robbed of its geographical essence

    • Pervasive influence of a continental or worldwide popular culture





Placelessness or clustering1
Placelessness or clustering?

  • Folk cultures, rich in uniqueness, appear to make the geographical face of popular culture seem expressionless

  • Michael Weiss argues that “American society has become increasing fragmented”



Placelessness or clustering2
Placelessness or clustering?

  • Jonathan Robbin identifies 40 “life-style clusters” based on postal ZIP codes

    • Says the ZIP codes can tell him what people eat, drink, drive—even think

    • Each life-style cluster is a formal region with a colorful name, for example:

      • “Gray Power”—upper middle-class retirement areas

      • “Old Yankee Rows”—blue- and white-collar older ethnic neighbor­hoods of the Northeast

      • Norma Rae-Vile—lower- and middle-class southern mill towns



Placelessness or clustering3
Placelessness or clustering?

  • Old Yankee Rowers” typically have a high school education

    • Like bowling and ice hockey

    • Three times as likely to live in rowhouses or duplexes

  • Residents of Norma Rae-Vile

    • Mostly nonunion factory workers

    • Have trouble making ends meet

    • Consume twice as much canned stew as the national average


Placelessness or clustering4
Placelessness or clustering?

  • The above examples are to make a point

    • A whole panoply of popular subcultures exists in America and the world

    • Each possesses its own belief system, spokespeople, dress code, and lifestyle

  • Popular culture creates new places

    • Paul Adams sees television as being a gathering place

    • Social space where members of a household and their friends assemble


Placelessness or clustering5
Placelessness or clustering?

  • Television has become to popular culture, worldwide, what fire and hearth were to folk culture

  • Must remember region and place exist from micro to macro scales


Cyberspace
Cyberspace

  • Perhaps the personal computer and Internet access have created another new type of place

  • Certain words we use imply it has a geography—”Cyberspace”

  • The information superhighway connects not two points, but all points, creating a new sort of place


Cyberspace1
Cyberspace

  • Does cyberspace contain a geography at all?

    • Place, as understood by geographers, cannot be created on the net

    • “Virtual places” lack a cultural landscape and a cultural ecology

    • Human diversity is poorly portrayed in cyberspace

      • Old people, poor people, the illiterate, and the continent of Africa are not represented

      • On the net, users end up “meeting” people like themselves

      • The breath and spirit of place cannot exist in cyberspace

    • These are not real places and never can be


Cyberspace2
Cyberspace

  • Still, cyberspace possesses some geographical qualities

    • Enhances opportunities for communication over long distances

    • Allows access to rare data banks

    • Encourages and speeds cultural diffusion

    • The Internet helps heighten regional contrasts

    • Uneven spatial distribution of Internet connections creates a new way people differ



Food and drink
Food and drink

  • What we eat and drink differs markedly from one part of the country and world to another

  • Difference in alcoholic drink consumption in the United States

    • Beer has highest per capita consumption levels in the West

    • Least beer is sold in the Lower South and Utah

    • Corn whiskey, both legal and illegal, has been a traditional southern beverage

    • Californians place more importance on wine


Kitsch architecture lacross wisconsin
Kitsch Architecture: Lacross, Wisconsin

  • Kitsch – trivial, showy, designed for mass consumption – it is increasingly common in placeless landscapes.

  • Much kitsch in North American and Australia is characterized by gigantism

  • This is purported to be the world’s largest six-pack.


Kitsch architecture lacross wisconsin1
Kitsch Architecture: Lacross, Wisconsin

  • Gottlieb Heileman, a German immigrant, founded his brewery in 1870 and this region has one of the highest per capita beer consumption figures in the nation.


Food and drink1
Food and drink

  • Foods vary across North America

    • In the South, barbecued pork and beef, fried chicken, and hamburgers have greater than average popularity

    • More pizza is consumed in the North

      • Focus of Italian immigration

      • Pizza diffused to the southern states only in the mid-1950s


Food and drink2
Food and drink

  • Importance of fast food restaurants varies greatly within the United States

    • Stronghold is in the South — 57 percent in Mississippi

    • Northeast has lowest rate of such eateries —27 percent in New York and Vermont

    • We should not expect geographical uniformity within popular culture

    • Placelessness has been overstated


Popular music
Popular music

  • The many difference styles of popular music all reveal geographic patterning in levels of acceptance

  • Pop musicians can receive adulation of a magnitude reserved for deities in folk culture

  • Elvis Presley, a generation after his death retains an important place in American popular culture

    • Illustrates the vivid geography of the culture

    • Sale of memorabilia reveals a split personality

    • Hotbeds of Elvis worship lie in eastern states

    • Elvis largely forgotten out West


Sports
Sports

  • Abundant leisure time has allowed North Americans to devote time watching or participating in sports

  • Few aspects of popular culture are as widely publicized as our games, both amateur and professional

  • From Little League through professional contests, athletics receive almost daily attention from members of popular culture

  • The further we withdrew from our folk tradition, the more important organized games became


Sports1
Sports

  • The nineteenth century gave us football, ice hockey, baseball, soccer, and basket­ball—our major spectator sports

  • Our folk ancestors played games, but most were limited to children and little time was spent on them

  • Concept of professional athletes and admission-paying spectators is not found in folk culture


Sports2
Sports

  • With diffusion of commercial spectator sports through North America, distinct

  • regional contrasts developed

    • “Hotbeds” of football arose in some regions

    • Basketball became a winter mania in some areas

    • Baseball came to rule supreme in some states

    • Ice hockey reigned in still other provinces


Sports3
Sports

  • Participant sports reveal similar regionalization

  • Ten “sports regions,” each with its own special character was developed after a study done by two geographers

  • These ten regions provide a more definitive identity to regions formerly revealed mainly through intuition


Beauty pageants
Beauty pageants

  • Contests are not confined to sports arenas

  • Nearly everyone participates in one or another less strenuous competition

  • Provide a typical expression of American popular culture

  • Began in earnest at Atlantic City, New Jersey in the early 1920s


Beauty pageants1
Beauty pageants

  • Reveal pronounced areal contrasts

    • Winners tend to come preponderantly from certain parts of the country

    • A “beauty queen belt” stretches from Mississippi to Utah

    • Directly north of this belt lies a sizable block of states that have never pro­duced a major contest winner

  • As with other culture regions the question arises concerning cause and effect


Vernacular culture regions
Vernacular culture regions

  • Defined as those regions perceived to exist by their inhabitants

  • Product of the spatial perception of the population at large

  • Not a formal region based on carefully chosen criteria

  • Such regions vary greatly in size, from small districts to multistate areas

  • Often overlap and usually have poorly defined borders


Vernacular culture regions1
Vernacular culture regions

  • Example of “Green Country” in northeastern Oklahoma

    • Name pushed by Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Commission

    • Proclaim “where a blend of natural beauty, ideal climate and frontier heritage offers visitors a memorable vacation experience”

    • News media in Tulsa repeatedly drum “Green Country” into minds of local Oklahomans

    • Billboards and businesses spread the same message


Vernacular culture regions2
Vernacular culture regions

  • These regions can be found in almost every part of the industrialized Western world

  • Wilber Zelinsky

    • Compiled province-sized regions in North America

    • Used most common provincial name appearing in the white pages of urban telephone directories

    • One curious feature is found in the populous districts in New York, Ontario, eastern Ohio, and western Pennsylvania where no affiliation to province is perceived


Vernacular culture regions3
Vernacular culture regions

  • Joseph Brownell, in 1960, sought to delimit the “Midwest”

    • Sent questionnaires to postal employees in the midsection of the United States from the Appalachians to the Rockies

    • Asked each employee whether he/she felt the community lay in the “Midwest”

    • Revealed core area where residents felt themselves to be Midwesterners

    • Similar survey done 20 years later, using student respondents, gave almost the same result


Vernacular culture regions4
Vernacular culture regions

  • A resident of Alabama’s “Black Belt” might also claim residence in “Dixie” and “the South”

  • Vernacular regions of America are perceptual in character

  • Vernacular regions are often perpetuated by the mass media


Popular culture6
Popular culture

  • Popular Culture Regions

  • Diffusion in Popular Culture

  • The Ecology of Popular Culture

  • Cultural Integration in Popular Culture

  • Landscapes of Popular Culture


Hierarchical diffusion
Hierarchical diffusion

  • Might play a larger role because popular society is highly stratified

  • McDonald’s restaurants

    • Beginning in 1955 spread hierarchically

    • Revealed a bias in favor of larger urban markets


Hierarchical diffusion1
Hierarchical diffusion

  • Wal-Mart stores

    • Diffused from its Arkansas base in a largely contagious pattern

    • Spread into neighboring states

    • Initially chose smaller towns and markets for locations using a pattern called reverse hierarchical diffusion

    • Later spread into cities

    • Combination of contagious and reverse hierarchical diffusion led Wal-Mart, within 30 years, to become the nation’s largest retailer


Hierarchical diffusion2
Hierarchical diffusion

  • Speed of diffusion in popular culture

    • Progresses far more rapidly than in folk culture

    • Time-distance decay is considerably weaker

    • In the early nineteenth century time span was measured in decades

    • Modern transportation and communications networks now permit cultural diffusion to occur within weeks or days

    • Rapid diffusion enhances the chance for change in popular culture


Advertising
Advertising

  • Most effective device for popular culture diffusion

  • Commercial advertising of retail products bombards us visually and orally

  • Using psychology, we are sold products we do not need

  • Popular culture is equipped with the most potent devices and techniques of dif­fusion ever perfected


Advertising1
Advertising

  • Modern advertising is very place-conscious

    • Products and services are linked to popular, admired places

    • Example of the “Marboro Man” and the romanticized American West

    • Remarkably such techniques work in countries as far away as Egypt


Advertising and diffusion sibu sarawak malaysia
Advertising and Diffusion:Sibu, Sarawak, Malaysia

  • Advertising plays a key role in the diffusion of popular culture.

  • Symbols are important marketing tools and companies aim to get instant recognition for their products.

  • Here a row of former Chinese shophouses has been renovated as a “strip mall.”

  • The signs are international status symobls meaning “American.”


Advertising and diffusion sibu sarawak malaysia1
Advertising and Diffusion:Sibu, Sarawak, Malaysia

  • American pop culture is becoming increasingly popular in Asia to the dismay of many traditional parents.

  • How do you think these young Malaysians learn about American products and why are they so much in demand?

  • Where do you think they are manufactured?

  • What signs do you recognize?


International diffusion
International diffusion

  • Innovations diffuse between countries and continents as rapidly as jet airplanes and satellite-beamed television programs

  • Popular cultures of North America, Europe, and Australia have become similar and in constant contact

    • Country-western music now heard in Northern Ireland’s pubs

    • Levi-clad Romanians in small towns flock to American-made movies


International diffusion1
International diffusion

  • Popular cultures of North America, Europe, and Australia have become similar and in constant contact

    • Americans lineup to hear touring British rock musicians

    • Rocky Mountain ski resorts are built in Alpine-Swiss architecture

    • Latest Paris fashions appear in American department stores

    • Fast-food franchises of MacDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken diffused to Russia

    • Motel chains such as Holiday Inn took root in Tibet and other countries


International diffusion2
International diffusion

  • In many lesser-developed countries acceptance of Western popular culture occurs among a socioeconomic elite

  • Many people across the world now share aspects of a global culture


Stimulus diffusion and fast food sao paulo brazil
Stimulus Diffusion and Fast Food:Sao Paulo, Brazil

  • Not only have McDonalds and other fast food outlets spread around the world but also they have stimulated the development of new ones.


Stimulus diffusion and fast food sao paulo brazil1
Stimulus Diffusion and Fast Food:Sao Paulo, Brazil

  • At McDingos, one can buy a hamberger, cheeseburger, a “Big Dingo” with double meet and cheese, and a “Bomba de Chocolate” ie a chocolate sundae

  • The American influence is unmistakable


Communication barriers
Communication barriers

  • Spread can be greatly retarded if access to the media is denied

  • Billboard, a magazine devoted largely to popular music, described such a barrier

    • Record company executive Seymour Stein complained radio stations and disk jockeys refused to play “punk rock”

    • Stein claimed punk devotees were concentrated in New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, and London

    • Diffusion of punk rock could only be heard in other areas through live con­certs and the record sales they generated

    • Other musical forms had the same problem -- pachanga, ska, pop/gospel, “women’s music”, reggae, and “gangsta rap”

  • Time Warner Inc., a major distributor of gangsta rap, had to endure scathing criticism in the United States congress in 1995


Communication barriers1
Communication barriers

  • To control programming of radio and television is to control much of the diffusion of popular culture

  • Government censorship can also provide barriers to diffusion

    • Islamic fundamentalist regime in Iran during 1995

      • Long opposed Western popular culture as a corrupting influence

      • Outlawed television satellite dishes to try and prevent citizens from Watching programs broadcast in foreign countries

    • Repressive regimes must cope with a proliferation of communication methods—the fax and Internet

    • It is probably impossible for even totalitarian nations to completely keep out some influence of popular culture


Communication barriers2
Communication barriers

  • Government censorship can also provide barriers to diffusion

    • Example of Islamic fundamentalist regime in Iran —outlawed television satellite dishes in 1995

    • Control of media can approach control of the mind in popular culture

    • Repressive regimes must cope with a proliferation of communication methods

    • Status of inward-looking “hermit” nations is probably no longer attainable


Communication barriers3
Communication barriers

  • Newspapers also act as selective barriers

    • Reinforce the effect of political boundaries

    • Between 21 and 48 percent of all news published in Canadian newspapers is of foreign origin, mainly United States news

    • About 12 percent of news in American newspapers foreign


Diffusion of the rodeo
Diffusion of the rodeo

  • Rooted in ranching culture of North American West and has never completely escaped that setting

  • Modern rodeo had its origin in folk tradition

  • Began simply as roundups of cattle in Spanish livestock ranching

  • Started in northern Mexico and the American Southwest

  • Word rodeo derived from the Spanish rodear, “to surround” or “to round up”


Diffusion of the rodeo1
Diffusion of the rodeo

  • Cowboys from adjacent ranches began holding informal contests at roundup time to display their skills

  • After the Civil War, some cowboy contests on the Great Plains became formalized, with prizes awarded


Diffusion of the rodeo2
Diffusion of the rodeo

  • Transition to commercial rodeo, with admission tickets and grandstands, came quickly

  • The “Wild West Show” and its role in the diffusion of the rodeo

    • A rodeo at North Platte, Nebraska in 1882 led to some events being included in a Wild West Show held in Omaha in 1883

    • Wild West Shows moved by railroad from town to town

    • Probably provided the most potent agent of early rodeo diffusion


Diffusion of the rodeo3
Diffusion of the rodeo

  • Within a decade of the Omaha affair commercial rodeos were being held independently of Wild West Shows at several towns

    • The first apparently at Prescott, Arizona, in 1888

    • By 1900, commercial rodeos appeared throughout much of the West

    • Frontier Days rodeo, at Cheyenne, Wyoming, was first held in 1897


Diffusion of the rodeo4
Diffusion of the rodeo

  • By World War I, rodeos became an institution in provinces of western Canada

  • The Calgary Stampede began in 1912

  • Professional rodeos are now held in 36 states and 3 Canadian provinces

    • Oklahoma listed 98 scheduled events in 1977

      • Ethnic and gender lives have been crossed

      • Creek Nation All Indian Rodeo at Okmulgee

      • All Girls Rodeo at Duncan

      • All Black Rodeo at Wewoka

    • In Texas and other states, rodeo competition has become an official high school sport

    • Major acceptance is found west of the Mississippi River


Diffusion of the rodeo5
Diffusion of the rodeo

  • Absorbing and permeable barriers to diffusion

    • Mexico—bullfighting occupies a dominant position

    • Mormon culture region centered in Utah

    • In central Mexico the charreada exists as a unique form of rodeo

    • In California the rodeo penetrated the mountains to reach the Pacific

  • Greatest strength of commercial rodeo lies in the cattle ranching areas


The american diner
The American diner

  • Restaurant in the general shape of a railroad or trolley car

  • Experienced a failure to diffuse throughout the United States

  • Arose before World War II in the northeastern United states

    • Spread through the manufacturing belt states — New York City-Philadelphia urban quarter

    • Perhaps as many as 6000 eateries were founded by 26 companies


The american diner1
The American diner

  • Spread of the diner generally failed in the American South

    • Connoted cities, industries, ethnicity, and “northernness”

    • Threatened southern way of life

    • Rejected from Virginia southward

    • Only Florida proved receptive to the idea


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