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A critical analysis of the role of popular culture in creating and maintaining learning across British society.

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Introduction

A critical analysis of the role of popular culture in creating and maintaining learning across British society. In the following study I will be examining the way that popular culture has affected British public in relation to learning. I will be first examining previous times and the ways in which popular culture has influenced people over time. I will be concentrating on the effects that music and advertising has had and shaped society over time, and the methods these mediums have used to achieve this. Throughout the last century British culture has been dramatically transformed through popular culture, the development of major corporations, the changing methods of the current governments of the time, and the development of methods that popular culture can reach the public, all contributing to an extreme alteration in the way society as a whole behaves. Before the industrial revolution, popular culture was based on the agricultural year and around religious festivals for example, harvest, plough Monday, Easter, Christmas etc.) There was no division of the classes. Everyone joined together in recreation and entertainment. In the nineteenth century however, there was a considerable change. A sharp rise in urbanisation meant people flocked to the cities away from the agricultural areas to the industrial centres. There was therefore a massive decline in the meaningfulness of the agricultural festivals. In the city there was a physical separation of the classes, the working classes living tightly together in houses built specifically to house workers. There were far fewer public holidays as the agricultural ones were regarded as obsolete. There were fears about the amount of control the rich had over the working classes, as there was in the church. The working classes saw how they were treated by the Church Of England in the city very different to what they were used to. Many theories arose about the church and how it was corrupt. ...read more.

Middle

This meant that the workers would come home and drink the equal amount they would have over the day while on the farms, in one evening. Drinking created social decline, causing a large spread of violent drunken behaviour, rape, domestic abuse, child negligence etc, prompting the authorities to provide evening entertainment for the working classes, to prevent the boredom and the need to drink. Thus, the music halls were born. Music halls were popular all over Britain, and drew in both the working classes and the upper classes to shows involving many different types of people singing patriotic songs or amusing acts, often by women. A famous example of performer was Vesta Tilley. Tilley would often impersonate men, mainly 'pencil pushers', the middle-class men who worked in offices and the like. Tilley would dress in drag, and impersonate and ridicule these type of people, much to the amusement of the working class people who often detested these type of people. Tilley's most famous song was 'Burlington Bertie'. As WW11 began, music changed within society. Patriotic songs like 'Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag' and 'Jerusalem' were very popular as was all uplifting nationalist music at the time. The Frankfurt School This was a group set up in 1923 mainly made up of Jewish intellectuals threatened by the Nazis. With beliefs similar to Gramsci's they believed that the working classes had been 'pacified' into accepting capitalism by 'Commodity Fetishism' (the creation of false needs. The most famous three members of the Franfurt school were arguably Adorno (1903-1969), Max Horkheimer (1895-1973) and Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979). Adorno devised many theories concerning popular culture, many of which are still used today. In Dominic Strinati's work An Introduction To Theories Of Popular Culture, features a quote from Adorno giving his view on popular culture and the way in which it is used. 'In all its branches, products which are tailored for the consumption by masses, and which to a great extent determine the nature of that consumption, are manufactured more or less according to plan... ...read more.

Conclusion

To stop prosecution, Radio Caroline was broadcast from the sea off the shores of Britain so as to avoid breaking the law. Radio Caroline broadcast rock'n'roll, and music genres that the younger audiences would appreciate, music which was censored and restricted by the government, receiving little airtime. The government retorted by making the listening to Radio Caroline illegal, but this was ineffective, so they produced a new radio station called Radio One. This was obviously still controlled by the government, but played the popular music that Radio Caroline did. This is a strong example of hegemony, showing how the government changes its policies to give the impression that the public have got what they wanted, but still having that underpinning control. I conclude that popular music has had and continues to have massive influence on society today. Music such as 'Jerusalem' around the time of the world wars was uplifting and gave people hope in the terrible times they lived through while the war was happening. In the 1950s, music changed dramatically and brought about certain fashion trends, some seen as damaging, but overall just another cultural change. Nowadays, music is less regulated, but we are still prevented from listening to particular types of music at certain ages, indicating the continuation of censorship enforced by the government. Hegemony in music is very apparent, a prime example being the banning of Radio Caroline and the censorship involved in the music industry today. I feel society has developed through music, as new music is born; new technology to improve it follows and so on. Music brings joy and entertainment, a medium through which thoughts are expressed and ideas are publicised. I feel that the censorship of music is meaningless, because as we develop as people, we can learn to accept maybe aggressive lyrics or offensive videos and tolerate them as just another part of someone's culture. Through music we learn and to censor our music is to stifle our growth as human beings. ...read more.

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