What is Popular Culture?

Popular culture is understood to be the accumulated store of cultural products such as music, art, literature, fashion, dance, film, television, radio etc. which are primarily used by ‘non- elites’ or ‘common people’. Thus, popular culture is largely understood as the culture of the general masses of people.

John Storey in his book ‘Cultural Theory and Popular Culture’ gives six definitions of popular culture. According to Storey, popular cultural products appeal to a broad spectrum of people. Popular culture keeps changing constantly and is specific to time and place.

Peter Burke in ‘Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe’ concurs with it when he says that despite there being a general similarity in popular culture in Europe, there were variations in it depending upon whether the culture hailed from highland or lowland areas.

According to ‘Neo-Gramascian Hegemony Theory’ which is heavily influenced by the writings of Italian thinker Antonio Gramsci, popular culture is also seen to act as a medium of rebellion/resistance against the established dominant culture.

Folkloric elements have substantially contributed to the formation of popular culture. In fact, they provide a culturally unifying fabric for the society. Besides, the products of popular culture are also created through word-of-mouth or by mass media. Nowadays, mass media is playing a significant role in the realm of popular culture. Entertainment, sports, television have today become strong tools in this field. For instance, films or ‘item’ songs in films instantaneously capture the imagination of people and get a wide ‘popular’ acceptance.

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