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How and why are distinctions between high and popular cultures made? What role do hierarchies have in contemporary society?

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Introduction

How and why are distinctions between high and popular cultures made? What role do hierarchies have in contemporary society? Culture, in sociology, is the beliefs, behaviour, language, and entire way of life of a particular group of people at a particular time. Culture includes traditions, ceremonies, and works of art, inventions, technology, and habits. Culture distinguishes human beings from other animals, in that humans are able to make patterns of behaviour for themselves, and are able to transmit these from person to person and through generations. Sociologists are interested in how cultures emerge and develop, looking into the social conditions behind different cultures, and in doing so they examine the way standards and values operate as guides to behaviour. Additionally, they have distinguished between 'high' and low' cultures, and identified, for example, mass culture as a significant form where behaviour is standardised within a population, and goods and services are similarly the same. Throughout this essay I will be examining both 'high' and 'popular' culture, and making relevant distinctions between them. ...read more.

Middle

Some may argue that flat pack furniture is of the popular culture industry as it is all mass produced. Whereas, the high culture population would prefer an original, unique or antique piece of furniture. It is made clear from studying the high culture that they focus on the timeless. H Hawkins (1990) believed that high and popular cultures do often share similar themes. For example a particular piece of music could be seen as high culture at one point, and popular culture at another. In Italy, Opera is an admired and broadly recognised culture form. The singers and performers are all well known and it always draws in larges audiences. However, in Britain the opera is seen as a privileged taste and the audience are usually older and from higher social classes. It is shown in this case that it often be difficult to assign cultural practices to precise theoretical divisions. Popular culture is seen as a culture which only celebrates fame. ...read more.

Conclusion

All societies are organised politically and economically. Power and authority are circulated within societies, which allow them to have the resources for distributing scarce resources. Cultures are affected by the interests of governing groups in societies, which try to find explanations and confirm their positions in particular structures. Through the construction of traditions, social hierarchies continue to try and spread through the population. The popular culture, are used by these hierarchies to train and 'take over' the lesser groups. This misleading information can then in turn be used to promote a political cause or point of view. It is clear that power and culture are inseparable and that the analysis of culture cannot be detached from politics or powerful relations. Culture shapes our social structures and social positions and identities. Distinctions are made between the different cultures to allow them to have the right to express the own identities. Even though people are put into certain subcultures doesn't mean that they lack their own individuality, because every single person is different and has the right to the own opinion and preference even if it may be the same, or different, to somebody else's. ...read more.

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