Reflection > Tues Week 2

Um…we talk about culture, and it’s pretty darn cool. But since I’m in grad school now, I’ll use bigger words…

On Tuesday we continued to review the study of culture itself as it developed from before the turn of the 20th century, mostly as it happened in England. As the industrial revolution creates a migration to urban cities, an entire class of people are now separate from exposure to the elite and high culture (art, music, fashion, etc).

As a result (mostly of human nature) they create their own culture – new and seperate from the elite. For may years, this emerging ‘working class’ culture was feared and thought be lacking value. There was a wide spread call to return the middle class to elite high culture through education.

In the 1950s , scholars like Raymond Williams and EP Thompson are the first to start saying this “pub culture” or “working class culture” of the 1920s-30s actually has value.

Why the shift? There’s another player coming on the scene in the 1950s: American popular culture in the form of mass media is starting to be broad-casted into England. This emergence is, again like the working class culture before it, considered with fear to be bad and or evil for its possible influence over the masses.

These two cycles at least show a desire for past culture to return when confronted with emergence of new trends or culture. (Working class was nostalgic for pre-industrial ideas, then popular culture is nostalgic for working class culture.) I have to wonder if we’ll be bound to be nostalgic of past times.

Maybe not … We talked about today’s postmodern mindset, known to evaluate all cultures and subcultures simultaneously to find the good and bad within each one – and not make lump judgements. That breaks the cycle – or shortens it considerably.

I also can’t help but wonder what effects this Postmodern worldview has on society today. I mean as the people who are constantly negotiating and evaluating good from bad within all levels of our society – what is that doing to the way we navigate the world? Whew… it makes me feel tired just thinking about it…


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