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Folk and Popular Culture
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  1. Folk and Popular Culture Chapter 4

  2. Introduction • Why do people living in different locations have such different social customs? • How are social customs related to the cultural landscape? • Folk culture- culture traditionally practiced by a small, homogeneous, rural group living in relative isolation from other groups • Popular culture- culture found in a large, heterogeneous society that shares certain habits despite differences in other personal characteristics

  3. Origins of Folk and Popular Culture • Social customs originate at a hearth (center of innovation) • The hearths of folk customs are often unknown (who, when, and where) • Popular culture is usually a product of MDCs, esp. North America, Western Europe, and Japan • Ex.’s pop music and fast food • MDCs have technology to mass produce and the leisure time to enjoy pursuits other than food production

  4. Folk vs. Popular Music • Difference b/w folk and popular music exemplify the differences b/w folk and pop culture • Folk music usually has unknown origins and tells stories of everyday daily activities such as farming, or mysterious events such as earthquakes • Popular music is written and produced by specific individuals to be mass produced and sold • Org. around 1900 in NYC • Really began to spread around the world during WWII • Hip Hop is popular music that has a folk appeal to it

  5. Diffusion of Folk and Popular Cultures • Popular culture usually spreads thru hierarchical diffusion • In the US the nodes would be Hollywood, and Madison Avenue in NYC • Diffuses rapidly because of modern communication and transportation • Folk culture is transmitted more slowly thru relocation diffusion (product of migration) • Hip hop considered pop rather than folk because it diffuses thru electronics

  6. The Amish: Relocation Diffusion of Folk Culture • Have distinctive clothing, farming, and religious practices • Leave a distinctive mark on the cultural landscape • First came to US in 1700s, most to Penn., but also to OH, IL, and Iowa • Diffused slowly to other parts of the US in search of cheap farmland • Now have distinctive settlements in 17 states

  7. Sports: Hierarchical Diffusion of Popular Culture • Unfortunately and inexplicably , soccer is the World’s most popular sport • Early form originated around the eleventh century in England • Changed from folk culture to popular culture in the 1800s • Clubs were founded by factories and churches to provide recreation for workers

  8. continued • 1863 rules were standardized in Great Britain and soccer became a part of pop. Culture • Soccer was exported to Europe in 1870 and later to parts of the British Empire • All organized spectator sports are part of pop. Culture today

  9. Isolation Promotes Cultural Diversity • Folk customs develop through centuries of relative isolation from customs practiced by other groups • Ex. Himalayan Art • Read about it p. 120

  10. Influence of the Physical Environment • Environmental determinism • Belief that physical environment caused all human activities • Not accepted as true today –possibilism • Environment is only one of several controls over social customs

  11. continued • Customs such as provision of food, clothing , and shelter are clearly influenced by the climate, soil, and vegetation of a place • Folk cultures are particularly influenced by the environment because they lack technology to overcome it • Broad differences in folk culture arise in part due to physical conditions • Food and shelter can be used to demonstrate the influence of cultural values and the environment on the development of folk culture

  12. Distinctive Food Preferences • Folk food habits derive from the environment • We eat plants and animals that live and grow in the areas we live • In areas where cooking fuel is scarce, cultures come up with clever ways to use the food without much cooking • Terroir- the contribution of a location’s distinctive physical features to the way food tastes • often used to describe wine • How the soil and climate effect the taste of wine grown in certain regions

  13. continued • Food customs are also influenced by cultural values • Ethnicity and religious beliefs effect what people eat • Food taboos exist in many religions • A restriction on behavior imposed by a social custom • Ex. Muslims and Jews don’t eat pork • Just so happens that pigs are suited to live on the Arabian peninsula and is not suited for pastoral societies of Eastern Med. Sea

  14. continued • Food attractions also exist • Often thought to enhance desirable qualities • Ex. Aphrodisiacs • Rhino horn powder, Spanish Fly, chocolate

  15. Folk Housing • Folk housing is a product of cultural tradition and natural conditions • Obviously, building materials are influenced by what is available in the surrounding environment • Size and number of windows, and the pitch of the roof are often environmental concerns as well

  16. continued • Form of some houses might reflect religious values • Ex. Sacred walls or corners • In parts of China the NW wall is sacred • In Madagascar furniture arrangement in the home is influenced by religious values

  17. US Folk House Forms • Older houses in US display local folk-culture traditions • As people moved west, they built homes similar to where they came from on the East Coast • 3 major hearths of folk home forms in US • New England • Middle Atlantic • Lower Chesapeake

  18. New England • 4 major house types popular in 18th and 19th centuries • Can be found in Great Lakes Region today

  19. Middle Atlantic • Major type known as an “I-house” • 2 stories with gables on the sides • Only one room deep and at least two rooms wide • Found in the Ohio Valley and in the Midwest

  20. Lower Chesapeake • Also known as Tidewater style • Typically one story with a steep roof and chimneys at either end • Spread down the SE coast • Houses in wet areas were often built on piers to raise it above possible flooding

  21. Why is Popular Culture Widely Distributed? • Pop culture varies more in time than in place because it diffuses rapidly to places with a sufficiently high level of economic development to acquire the material possessions associated with pop culture

  22. Diffusion of Popular Housing • Housing styles built since the 940s demonstrate how popular customs vary more in time than in place • Since the end of WWII two architectural styles have dominated in the US • Modern (1945-60) • Neo-eclectic (since 1960)

  23. Modern House Styles • Specific types of modern house styles were popular at different times • Late 1940s and early 1950s minimal transitional was the dominant style • Late 50s into the 60s the ranch style house dominated • Between the 50s and 70s the split-level become popular

  24. Neo-Eclectic House Styles • Become popular in the 60s and passes modern styles in the 70s

  25. Rapid Diffusion of Clothing Styles • In MDCs clothing habits often reflect occupations rather than particular environments • Businessmen wear different clothes than factory workers • Higher income is also a big influence on clothing in MDCs • Women’s clothing styles change every year • Therefore, they update their wardrobe more often if they can afford it

  26. Popular Food Customs • Consumption of large quantities of alcoholic bev. and snack foods are characteristic of popular societies • Regional differences are based upon what is produced locally and cultural backgrounds (esp. religion)

  27. Role of Television in Diffusing Popular Culture • Television is an important pop. Custom for 2 reasons • Most popular leisure activity in MDCs • Most important mechanism by which knowledge of popular culture is rapidly diffused across Earth

  28. Diffusion of Television and Internet • In 1954 the US had 86% of TVs in the World, UK 9%, USSR 2%, Canada 2%, and the remainder were divided among Cuba, Mexico, France, and Brazil • By 1970 rapid growth in ownership in Europe brought the US % down to 25% • Half the world still had little or no broadcasting (Africa and Asia)

  29. continued

  30. continued • Diffusion of the internet followed a similar pattern, just at a much faster pace • 1995, 25 million of the 40 million internet users in the World were in the US • By 2000, there were 400 million users, 31% of which were in the US • Right now only about 10% of users are in LDCs, but that is expected to increase rapidly

  31. Government Control of Television • In US, most stations are owned by corporations that receive licenses from the gov. (make profits by selling advertisements) • Some stations are owned by nonprofits or local gov. and are used for educational programs • This pattern is found in Western hemisphere countries, but is rare in the rest of the World • In most developed countries broadcasting is done by a public corporation or a public-private partnership

  32. continued • In Canada, the CBC receives gov. grants, and in Britain (BBC) and Japan (NHK) the broadcasting company gets a license fee from TV owners • Independence from gov. interference is guaranteed in their charters • In LDCs, direct management of TV is done through a gov. agency • True in China, India, and many other countries in Asia, and Africa • They censor TV to make sure programs will not contradict gov. policies

  33. Reduced Government Control • Television signals are only good for about 60 miles • In the past, few people could actually pick up broadcasts from other countries • Cable and Satellite have made TV a force for political change • Many Asian countries try to keep their citizens form obtaining dishes • Dishes hastened the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe as more Western programs were able to be seen

  34. Why Does the Globalization of Popular Culture Cause Problems? • 2 major problems • Threatens the survival of folk culture • Pop culture may be less responsive to the diversity of local environments and consequently may generate adverse environmental impacts

  35. Threat to Folk Culture • When people turn from folk culture to popular culture they sometimes turn away from traditional values as well • Can lead to dominance of Western Perspectives

  36. Loss of Traditional Values • Urban people in many African and Asian countries have adopted Western clothing • It has been adopted a sign of success • Causes problems in many Middle Eastern countries who do not want Western influence • Diffusion of pop. Culture also threatens the subservience of women to men that is embedded in many folk customs

  37. continued • Taliban in Afghanistan did not allow women to attend school, work outside the home, or drive a car—also could not leave the home without a male (relative) escort • Pop. Culture has brought ideas of legal equality and economic and social opportunities to many LDCs • On the negative side, “sex tours” have led to an increase in prostitution in South and Southeast Asia

  38. Threat of Foreign Media Imperialism • Leaders of many LDCs view influx of pop culture as a threat to independence • He mass media plays a big role in this • Esp. news-gathering organizations • The US, UK, and Japan dominate television in LDCs • LDC leaders view this as a method of economic and cultural imperialism • American shows present American beliefs and social forms

  39. Western Control of the News Media • Diffusion of information to newspapers around the world are dominated by the Associated Press (AP) and Reuters • Stories that other countries get focus more on news of MDCs • Many African and Asian gov.’s criticize the idea of freedom of the press

  40. Environmental Impact of Popular Culture • Pop. Culture can significantly modify or control the environment • We often modify environments to increase leisure • Ex. Golf course • Avg. about 200 acres

  41. Uniform Landscapes • Distribution of pop. culture around the world leads to more uniform landscapes • Promoters of pop. culture want a uniform appearance to generate “product recognition” • Ex. Diffusion of fast food restaurants • Look similar around the world so travelers can easily identify them • Gas stations, supermarkets, and hotels follow a similar pattern

  42. continued • In 1970s American, European, and Japanese cars all looked very different • Today they look more similar than different

  43. Negative Environmental Impact • 2 ways this might happen • Depletion of scarce natural resources • pollution

  44. Pop culture demands a large amount of natural resources to manufacture certain goods Minerals can be over mined and animals can become endangered in the name of pop culture Pop culture generates a high volume of waste—solids, liquids, and gases Solid waste is particularly problematic continued