culture as an object? as a process?

Posted by: | January 27, 2009 | Comments Off on culture as an object? as a process?

Rowe and Schelling’s article, The Faces of Popular Culture does a remarkable job of communicating just how much the development of culture is a process. In some instances it seems that what functions as popular culture does so as a result of hybridization of syncretism. The popularity of a number of cultural elements seems to be increasing in terms of how ideas and information can be exchanged between various sources. These included the rural and urban, literate and illiterate, indigenous and European, and modern and traditional. This is to say that these systems are not highly bounded, but the opposite. What seems to have contributed to the formation of certain forms of popular culture in Latin America is the way in which the modern and traditional or indigenous and European have been able to appropriate elements from each other in the formation of new, and more inclusive cultural elements. In their discussion of resistance and conformity they caution us that, “It is risky to let them become an exclusive paradigm” (105). This idea of exclusivity directly contradicts the idea of transculturation and the multi-directional exchange of ideas from different systems of thought.
Mass media play a huge role in the dispersal of popular culture, or any culture and can often be considered the “make it, or break it” element of something’s popularity. Both contemporarily and historically media and technological improvements have had compelling effects on culture. With the rise of the record and recording industry the spread of music and certain up and coming genres is possible. The printing press, though originally a “toy” of the elite enabled the spread of ideas. Computers and the internet have served to increasingly shrink the proverbial size of our ever expanding media and cultural world. Much of Rowe and Schelling’s article deals with elements that can be considered media, and through their appropriation by “the people” they become traffic on the mass media highway. Traveling along this highway is a process that often alters them from their state at the beginning of the journey. This process of cultural articulation is an interesting area of study.


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