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Folk and Popular Culture

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  1. Folk and Popular Culture Insanely “Radical” Scot, with Kilt and Classic Surfboard Woman with Oxcart, Myanmar

  2. The Forbidden City Beijing, China2004

  3. Beijing, China2004

  4. Important Terminology • Folk Culture – traditionally practiced by a small, homogeneous, rural group living in relative isolation. • Popular Culture – found in a large, heterogeneous society that shares certain habits despite differences in personal characteristics. • Material Culture – the physical objects produced by a culture in order to meet its material needs: food, clothing, shelter, arts, and recreation. Carl Sauer (Berkeley, 1930s – 1970s).

  5. Important Terms • Custom – frequent repetition of an act until it becomes characteristic of a group of people.. • Taboo – a restriction on behavior imposed by social custom. • Habit – repetitive act performed by an individual.

  6. Folk Culture – rapidly changing and/or disappearing throughout much of the world. Guatemalan Market Portuguese Fishing Boat Turkish Camel Market

  7. Folk Culture • Stable and close knit • Usually a rural community • Tradition controls • Resistance to change • Buildings erected without architect or blueprint using locally available building materials • anonymous origins, diffuses slowly through migration. Develops over time. • Clustered distributions:isolation/lack of interaction breed uniqueness and ties to physical environment.


  9. FOLK ARCHITECTURE Effects on Landscape:usually of limited scale and scope. Agricultural: fields, terraces, grain storage Dwellings: historically created from local materials: wood, brick, stone, skins; often uniquely and traditionally arranged; always functionally tied to physical environment.

  10. FOLK FOOD How did such differences develop?

  11. Hog Production and Food Cultures Fig. 4-6: Annual hog production is influenced by religious taboos against pork consumption in Islam and other religions. The highest production is in China, which is largely Buddhist.

  12. North American Folk Culture Regions

  13. Food Taboos: Jews – can’t eat animals that chew cud, that have cloven feet; can’t mix meat and milk, or eat fish lacking fins or scales; Muslims – no pork; Hindus – no cows (used for oxen during monsoon) Washing Cow in Ganges

  14. Popular Culture Clothing: Jeans, for example, and have become valuable status symbols in many regions including Asia and Russia despite longstanding folk traditions.

  15. Popular Culture Wide Distribution: differences from place to place uncommon, more likely differences at one place over time. Housing:only small regional variations, more generally there are trends over time Food: franchises, cargo planes, superhighways and freezer trucks have eliminated much local variation. Limited variations in choice regionally, esp. with alcohol and snacks. Substantial variations by ethnicity.

  16. World Cell Phone SubscribersCartogram, 1990 Territory size shows the proportion of all cellular telephone subscriptions found there in 1990.Source:

  17. GSM World Cellular Coverage, 2009 Source: GSM Association. 2009.

  18. A Mental Map of Hip Hop Fig. 4-3: This mental map places major hip hop performers near other similar performers and in the portion of the country where they performed.

  19. Diffusion of TV, 1954–1999 Television has diffused widely since the 1950s, but some areas still have low numbers of TVs per population. • Much media is still state-controlled. • Ten Most Censored Countries: • North Korea • Myanmar (Burma) • Turkmenistan • Equatorial Guinea • Libya • Eritrea • Cuba • Uzbekistan • Syria • Belarus • Source: The Committee to Protect Journalists. 2009.

  20. Internet Connections The Internet is diffusing today, but access varies widely.

  21. Internet Connections The Internet is diffusing today, but access varies widely. Some countries censor the Internet, but this is much harder to do.

  22. Popular Culture Effects on Landscape: creates homogenous, “placeless” (Relph, 1976), landscape • Complex network of roads and highways • Commercial Structures tend towards ‘boxes’ • Dwellings may be aesthetically suggestive of older folk traditions • Planned and Gated Communities more and more common

  23. Surfing at Disney’s Orlando Typhoon Lagoon Are places still tied to local landscapes? Disconnect with landscape: indoor swimming pools? desert surfing?

  24. McDonald’s Restaurant, Venice Swimming Pool, West Edmonton Mall, Canada Dubai’s Indoor Ski Resort

  25. Muslim Women in Traditional Dress at Indoor Ski Resort

  26. Problems with the Globalization of Culture Often Destroys Folk Culture – or preserves traditions as museum pieces or tourism gimmicks. • Mexican Mariachis; Polynesian Navigators; Cruise Line Simulations • Change in Traditional Roles and Values; Polynesian weight problems Satellite Television, Baja California

  27. Problems with the Globalization of Popular Culture Western Media Imperialism? • U.S., Britain, and Japan dominate worldwide media. • Glorified consumerism, violence, sexuality, and militarism? • U.S. (Networks and CNN) and British (BBC) news media provide/control the dissemination of information worldwide. • These networks are unlikely to focus or provide third world perspective on issues important in the LDCs.

  28. Environmental Effects of Globalization Accelerated Resource Use in Consumer Societies: • Furs: minx, lynx, jaguar, kangaroo, whale, sea otters (18th Century Russians) fed early fashion trends. • Aggressive consumerism evident in most Western Media , including hip hop and rock and roll. • Inefficient over-consumption of Meats (10:1), Poultry (3:1), even Fish (fed other fish and chicken) by meat-eating pop cultures • New larger housing desires and associated energy and water use. Pollution: • Water treatment and improved public health may come with higher incomes. • However, increased waste and toxins from fuel use, discarded products, plastics, marketing and packaging materials, etc.

  29. Benefits of Economic and Cultural Globalization • Increased economic opportunity? • Higher standards of living? • Increased consumer choice • More political freedom? • More social freedom? Shanghai, China, 2003

  30. Beijing, China Palm Springs, CA

  31. Marlboro Man in Egypt

  32. Forbes Hip Hop Cash Kings, 2007

  33. Fiji

  34. Suburban Sprawl, Arizona

  35. Resisting Globalization • Protests at WTO and G9 meetings • Al Jazeera • Indigenous Peoples in Latin America

  36. The Happiest Places on Earth? • Family and Friends, Exercise, Faith (Sense of Purpose), Extroversion, Sufficient Employment and Income, Flow and Balance • Some regions are clearly more happy than others and there are geographic clusters. • In Japan, China, Australia, and the U.S. happiness stayed level or decreased as GDP increased for most of recent history. • What do the social sciences tell us about what makes people happy? • How does happiness vary around the world? • How does happiness change over time within a country?

  37. The Happiest Places on Earth? 1.    Denmark2.    Finland3.    Netherlands4.    Sweden5.    Ireland6.    Canada7.    Switzerland8.    New Zealand9.    Norway10.  Belgium • Question: “Taking all things together, would you say you are? • 1 Very happy • 2 Rather happy • 3 Not very happy • 4 Not at all happy” - Based on data from World Values Survey

  38. Question: “Please imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?” Based on data from Gallup World Survey, 2006

  39. Based on data from World Values Survey “All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days? Using this card on which 1 means you are “completely dissatisfied” and 10 means you are “completely satisfied” where would you put your satisfaction with your life as a whole?” Completely dissatisfied Completely satisfied 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

  40. World Values Survey

  41. Source: Internet appendix to Inglehart, Foa and Welzel, “Social Change, Freedom and Rising Happiness,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

  42. Source: Internet appendix to Inglehart, Foa and Welzel, “Social Change, Freedom and Rising Happiness,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

  43. Source: Internet appendix to Inglehart, Foa and Welzel, “Social Change, Freedom and Rising Happiness,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

  44. Source: Internet appendix to Inglehart, Foa and Welzel, “Social Change, Freedom and Rising Happiness,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology