And I thought I knew culture…

Posted by: | January 13, 2009 | Comments Off on And I thought I knew culture…

And I thought I knew culture…

After the first reading of the term, I find myself more confused than before. When reading “Culture is Ordinary” I realized that there are a whole bunch of implications when one refers to culture that I had never taken into consideration. I like that he starts by arguing that a culture is what is used to describe a “whole way of life” (pg. 11). I think for the most part this is true, when we were talking about Canadian popular/high culture last week; it was obvious that some of our Canadian students were quick to grab ‘ordinary’ things and identify them as part of their culture.

I would like to stay on this thought and expand of it. When we think of popular culture, we inevitably see that some things in popular culture that come from high culture, and vice versa. This makes a very blurry line between popular and high culture, which allows for many ordinary things to become part of our culture, and maybe one day even become “high” culture. I believe that this is where Williams is going by saying that culture is used to describe a “whole way of life”. Because culture is dynamic, all the things that to a certain generation may seem ‘cool’ and worth of appreciation, to another generation within the same borders and social context, the same things will seem mundane. However, just because one generation dislikes a way of dressing, a form of speech, etc. it does not mean that those elements will not inevitably become part of the culture of the younger/future generation.

Williams goes further and argues that “bad” culture will inevitably be driven away by good culture. However, here you find some weaknesses in his article, for example: he says that the number of people who listens to good music is higher, and that more “good” literature was printed than ever before, etc. Today we can see that perhaps the number of people who reads a good newspaper has increased, and that there are more people who go to a museum to appreciate some sort of fine art, yes that is undisputable. However the rate at which these numbers have increased, in comparison with other forms of “bad” culture is not taken into account.

Food for thought: The number of readers of ‘good’ newspapers says Williams has increased, but what about the percentage? Furthermore, how much have industries such as the Hollywood gossip magazines have expanded, in comparison with major newspapers?

Because of the current addiction people have developed towards celebrities, new multimillion industries have been created and maintained alive by the ever increasing number of readers. Thus it is not so easy to accept Williams’s argument regarding “good” culture, pushing “bad” culture out. At least not in terms of literature… not many people in Latin American have read the classics of English literature, but many know about Angelina Jolie’s new adopted baby. Besides, who decides what is “good” and what is “bad”? Especially when we are talking about popular culture.

I’m out.


Comments are closed.

Name (required)

Email (required)


Speak your mind

Spam prevention powered by Akismet