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Popular Culture


									Popular Culture

        Chapter 8
    The Human Mosaic
Characteristics of popular culture
! Constantly changing
! Based in large, heterogeneous groups of
! Based mainly in urban areas
! Material goods mass-produced by machines
  in factories
! Prevailing money economy
Recreation and clothing
Characteristics of popular culture
! More numerous individual relationships, but
  less personal
! Weaker family structure
! Distinct division of labor with highly
  specialized professions and jobs
! Considerable leisure time available to most
! Police, army, and courts take the place of
  family and church in maintaining order
Leisure time
Popular culture
! If a single hallmark of popular culture exists, it
  is change
   ! Words such as growth, progress, fad, and
     trend crop up frequently in newspapers and
   ! Some people unable to cope with fast change
   ! Change can lead to insecurity expressed in
     the term future shock
   ! Vast majority of people in developed countries
     belong to the popular culture
Popular culture
! If a single hallmark of popular culture exists, it
  is change
   !   Contributions to the spread of popular culture
        !   Industrialization
        !   Urbanization
        !   Rise of formal education
        !   Resultant increase in leisure time
   !   All the reasons popular culture spread caused
       folk culture to retreat
Placelessness: Anywhere USA
! Without the sign, we would
  not know if these were
  houses, apartments, or
! Their style is no style; a
  sense of sameness
! Nothing sets these structures
  apart as being in a particular
  place; this is placelessness.
Placelessness: Anywhere USA
! In fact, the complex is in
  suburban Columbus, Ohio
  otherwise known as “Test
  Market USA.”
! Because the demographic
  character of Columbus offers
  a representative cross
  section of American society,
  it is an appropriate place to
  try out new products.
! Most fast food menus are
  tested here.
Popular culture
! If a single hallmark of popular culture exists, it is
   !   We and our recent ancestors embraced the free, open,
       dynamic life-style offered by popular culture
   !   Science challenged religion for dominance in our daily
   !   We profited greatly in material terms through this
   !   In reality, all culture presents a continuum on which
       popular and folk represent extreme forms
Popular culture
! If a single hallmark of popular culture exists, it is
   !   Many graduations between the two are possible
   !   Disadvantages become apparent as one moves toward
       the popular end of the continuum
         ! We forfeited much in discarding folkways

         ! Popular culture is not superior

         ! We weaken both family structure and interpersonal
         ! Tne prominent cultural geographer has said of popular
           culture “only two (things) would I dislike to give up:
           inside plumbing and medical advances.”
Popular culture
! Popular Culture Regions
! Diffusion in Popular Culture
! The Ecology of Popular Culture
! Cultural Integration in Popular Culture
! Landscapes of Popular Culture
Placelessness or clustering?
! Superficially, popular culture appears to vary less areally than
  folk culture
! Canadian geographer Edward Relph’s proposal
   ! Popular culture produces a profound placelessness
   ! A spatial standardization that diminishes cultural variety
   ! Demeans the human spirit
! James Kunstler speaks of “geography of nowhere” in describing
   ! One place become much like another, robbed of its
      geographical essence
   ! Pervasive influence of a continental or worldwide popular
McDonald’s in Tokyo
Wendy’s in Idaho
Pampas Grill in Finland
Placelessness or clustering?
! Folk cultures, rich in uniqueness, appear to
  make the geographical face of popular culture
  seem expressionless
! Michael Weiss argues that “American society
  has become increasing fragmented”
Cappadocia province, Turkey
Placelessness or clustering?
! Jonathan Robbin identifies 40 “life s clusters”
                                    - tyle
  based on postal ZIP codes
   !   Says the ZIP codes can tell him what people eat, drink,
       drive—even think
   !   Each life-style cluster is a formal region with a colorful
       name, for example:
        ! “Gray Power”—upper middle-class retirement areas

        ! “Old Yankee Rows”—blue- and white-collar older

           ethnic neighbor-hoods of the Northeast
        ! Norma Rae-Vile—lower- and middle-class southern

           mill towns
Lifestyle clusters
Placelessness or clustering?
! Old Yankee Rowers” typically have a high school
   !   Like bowling and ice hockey
   !   Three times as likely to live in rowhouses or duplexes
! Residents of Norma Rae V - ile
   ! Mostly nonunion factory workers
   ! Have trouble making ends meet
   ! Consume twice as much canned stew as the national
Placelessness or clustering?
! The above examples are to make a point
   ! A whole panoply of popular subcultures exists
     in America and the world
   ! Each possesses its own belief system,
     spokespeople, dress code, and lifestyle
! Popular culture creates new places
   ! Paul Adams sees television as being a
     gathering place
   ! Social space where members of a household
     and their friends assemble
Placelessness or clustering?
! Television has become to popular culture,
  worldwide, what fire and hearth were to folk
! Must remember region and place exist from
  micro to macro scales
! Perhaps the personal computer and Internet
  access have created another new type of
! Certain words we use imply it has a
! The information superhighway connects not
  two points, but all points, creating a new sort
  of place
! Does cyberspace contain a geography at all?
   ! Place, as understood by geographers, cannot be
     created on the net
   ! “Virtual places” lack a cultural landscape and a cultural
   ! Human diversity is poorly portrayed in cyberspace
      ! Old people, poor people, the illiterate, and the

         continent of Africa are not represented
      ! On the net, users end up “meeting” people like

      ! The breath and spirit of place cannot exist in

   ! These are not real places and never can be
! Still, cyberspace possesses some
  geographical qualities
  ! Enhances opportunities for communication
    over long distances
  ! Allows access to rare data banks
  ! Encourages and speeds cultural diffusion
  ! The Internet helps heighten regional contrasts
  ! Uneven spatial distribution of Internet
    connections creates a new way people differ
Internet Connections
Food and drink
! What we eat and drink differs markedly from one part
  of the country and world to another
! Difference in alcoholic drink consumption in the
  United States
   !   Beer has highest per capita consumption levels in the
   !   Least beer is sold in the Lower South and Utah
   !   Corn whiskey, both legal and illegal, has been a
       traditional southern beverage
   !   Californians place more importance on wine
Kitsch Architecture:
Lacross, Wisconsin
                       ! Kitsch – trivial, showy,
                         designed for mass
                         consumption – it is
                         increasingly common in
                         placeless landscapes.
                       ! Much kitsch in North
                         American and Australia is
                         characterized by gigantism
                       ! This is purported to be the
                         world’s largest six-pack.
Kitsch Architecture:
Lacross, Wisconsin
                       ! Gottlieb Heileman, a
                         German immigrant,
                         founded his brewery in
                         1870 and this region
                         has one of the highest
                         per capita beer
                         consumption figures in
                         the nation.
Food and drink
! Foods vary across North America
  ! In the South, barbecued pork and beef, fried
    chicken, and hamburgers have greater than
    average popularity
  ! More pizza is consumed in the North
      !   Focus of Italian immigration
      !   Pizza diffused to the southern states only in the
            - 950s
          mid 1
Food and drink
! Importance of fast food restaurants varies
  greatly within the United States
  ! Stronghold is in the South — 57 percent in
  ! Northeast has lowest rate of such eateries —
    27 percent in New York and Vermont
  ! We should not expect geographical uniformity
    within popular culture
  ! Placelessness has been overstated
Popular music
! The many difference styles of popular music all
  reveal geographic patterning in levels of acceptance
! Pop musicians can receive adulation of a magnitude
  reserved for deities in folk culture
! Elvis Presley, a generation after his death retains an
  important place in American popular culture
   !   Illustrates the vivid geography of the culture
   !   Sale of memorabilia reveals a split personality
   !   Hotbeds of Elvis worship lie in eastern states
   !   Elvis largely forgotten out West
! Abundant leisure time has allowed North Americans
  to devote time watching or participating in sports
! Few aspects of popular culture are as widely
  publicized as our games, both amateur and
! From Little League through professional contests,
  athletics receive almost daily attention from members
  of popular culture
! The further we withdrew from our folk tradition, the
  more important organized games became
! The nineteenth century gave us football, ice
  hockey, baseball, soccer, and basket-ball—
  our major spectator sports
! Our folk ancestors played games, but most
  were limited to children and little time was
  spent on them
! Concept of professional athletes and
  admission-paying spectators is not found in
  folk culture
! With diffusion of commercial spectator sports
  through North America, distinct
! regional contrasts developed
  ! “Hotbeds” of football arose in some regions
  ! Basketball became a winter mania in some
  ! Baseball came to rule supreme in some states
  ! Ice hockey reigned in still other provinces
! Participant sports reveal similar
! Ten “sports regions,” each with its own
  special character was developed after a study
  done by two geographers
! These ten regions provide a more definitive
  identity to regions formerly revealed mainly
  through intuition
Beauty pageants
! Contests are not confined to sports arenas
! Nearly everyone participates in one or
  another less strenuous competition
! Provide a typical expression of American
  popular culture
! Began in earnest at Atlantic City, New Jersey
  in the early 1920s
Beauty pageants
! Reveal pronounced areal contrasts
  ! Winners tend to come preponderantly from
    certain parts of the country
  ! A “beauty queen belt” stretches from
    Mississippi to Utah
  ! Directly north of this belt lies a sizable block of
    states that have never pro-duced a major
    contest winner
! As with other culture regions the question
  arises concerning cause and effect
Vernacular culture regions
! Defined as those regions perceived to exist by their
!   Product of the spatial perception of the population at
!   Not a formal region based on carefully chosen criteria
!   Such regions vary greatly in size, from small districts
    to multistate areas
!   Often overlap and usually have poorly defined
Vernacular culture regions
! Example of “Green Country” in northeastern
   !   Name pushed by Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation
   !   Proclaim “where a blend of natural beauty, ideal
       climate and frontier heritage offers visitors a
       memorable vacation experience”
   !   News media in Tulsa repeatedly drum “Green Country”
       into minds of local Oklahomans
   !   Billboards and businesses spread the same message
Vernacular culture regions
! These regions can be found in almost every part of
  the industrialized Western world
! Wilber Zelinsky
   !   Compiled province-sized regions in North America
   !   Used most common provincial name appearing in the
       white pages of urban telephone directories
   !   One curious feature is found in the populous districts in
       New York, Ontario, eastern Ohio, and western
       Pennsylvania where no affiliation to province is
Vernacular culture regions
! Joseph Brownell, in 1960, sought to delimit the
   !   Sent questionnaires to postal employees in the
       midsection of the United States from the Appalachians
       to the Rockies
   !   Asked each employee whether he/she felt the
       community lay in the “Midwest”
   !   Revealed core area where residents felt themselves to
       be Midwesterners
   !   Similar survey done 20 years later, using student
       respondents, gave almost the same result
Vernacular culture regions
! A resident of Alabama’s “Black Belt” might
  also claim residence in “Dixie” and “the
! Vernacular regions of America are perceptual
  in character
! Vernacular regions are often perpetuated by
  the mass media
Popular culture
! Popular Culture Regions
! Diffusion in Popular Culture
! The Ecology of Popular Culture
! Cultural Integration in Popular Culture
! Landscapes of Popular Culture
Hierarchical diffusion
! Might play a larger role because popular
  society is highly stratified
! McDonald’s restaurants
   ! Beginning in 1955 spread hierarchically
   ! Revealed a bias in favor of larger urban
Hierarchical diffusion
! Wal Mrt stores
     - a
  ! Diffused from its Arkansas base in a largely contagious
  ! Spread into neighboring states
  ! Initially chose smaller towns and markets for locations
    using a pattern called reverse hierarchical diffusion
  ! Later spread into cities
  ! Combination of contagious and reverse hierarchical
    diffusion led Wal-Mart, within 30 years, to become the
    nation’s largest retailer
Hierarchical diffusion
! Speed of diffusion in popular culture
   ! Progresses far more rapidly than in folk culture
   ! Time-distance decay is considerably weaker
   ! In the early nineteenth century time span was
     measured in decades
   ! Modern transportation and communications networks
     now permit cultural diffusion to occur within weeks or
   ! Rapid diffusion enhances the chance for change in
     popular culture
! Most effective device for popular culture
! Commercial advertising of retail products
  bombards us visually and orally
! Using psychology, we are sold products we
  do not need
! Popular culture is equipped with the most
  potent devices and techniques of dif-fusion
  ever perfected
! Modern advertising is very place-conscious
  ! Products and services are linked to popular,
    admired places
  ! Example of the “Marboro Man” and the
    romanticized American West
  ! Remarkably such techniques work in countries
    as far away as Egypt
Advertising and Diffusion:
Sibu, Sarawak, Malaysia
! Advertising plays a key role in
  the diffusion of popular culture.
! Symbols are important
  marketing tools and companies
  aim to get instant recognition for
  their products.
! Here a row of former Chinese
  shophouses has been
  renovated as a “strip mall.”
! The signs are international
  status symobls meaning
Advertising and Diffusion:
Sibu, Sarawak, Malaysia
! American pop culture is
  becoming increasingly
  popular in Asia to the dismay
  of many traditional parents.
! How do you think these
  young Malaysians learn
  about American products
  and why are they so much in
! Where do you think they are
! What signs do you
International diffusion
! Innovations diffuse between countries and
  continents as rapidly as jet airplanes and
  satellite-beamed television programs
! Popular cultures of North America, Europe,
  and Australia have become similar and in
  constant contact
  ! Country-western music now heard in Northern
    Ireland’s pubs
  ! Levi-clad Romanians in small towns flock to
    American-made movies
International diffusion
! Popular cultures of North America, Europe, and
  Australia have become similar and in constant
   !   Americans lineup to hear touring British rock musicians
   !   Rocky Mountain ski resorts are built in Alpine-Swiss
   !   Latest Paris fashions appear in American department
   !   Fast-food franchises of MacDonalds and Kentucky
       Fried Chicken diffused to Russia
   !   Motel chains such as Holiday Inn took root in Tibet and
       other countries
International diffusion
! In many lesser-developed countries
  acceptance of Western popular culture
  occurs among a socioeconomic elite
! Many people across the world now share
  aspects of a global culture
Stimulus Diffusion and Fast Food:
Sao Paulo, Brazil
                   ! Not only have
                     McDonalds and other
                     fast food outlets spread
                     around the world but
                     also they have
                     stimulated the
                     development of new
Stimulus Diffusion and Fast Food:
Sao Paulo, Brazil
                   ! At McDingos, one can
                     buy a hamberger,
                     cheeseburger, a “Big
                     Dingo” with double
                     meet and cheese, and a
                     “Bomba de Chocolate”
                     ie a chocolate sundae
                   ! The American influence
                     is unmistakable
Communication barriers
! Spread can be greatly retarded if access to the media is denied
! Billboard, a magazine devoted largely to popular music,
  described such a barrier
   ! Record company executive Seymour Stein complained radio
     stations and disk jockeys refused to play “punk rock”
   ! Stein claimed punk devotees were concentrated in New York
     City, Los Angeles, Boston, and London
   ! Diffusion of punk rock could only be heard in other areas
     through live con-certs and the record sales they generated
   ! Other musical forms had the same problem -- pachanga,
     ska, pop/gospel, “women’s music”, reggae, and “gangsta
! Time Warner Inc., a major distributor of gangsta rap, had to
  endure scathing criticism in the United States congress in 1995
Communication barriers
! To control programming of radio and television is to control
  much of the diffusion of popular culture
! Government censorship can also provide barriers to diffusion
   ! Islamic fundamentalist regime in Iran during 1995
         !   Long opposed Western popular culture as a corrupting
         !   Outlawed television satellite dishes to try and prevent citizens
             from Watching programs broadcast in foreign countries
    !   Repressive regimes must cope with a proliferation of
        communication methods—the fax and Internet
    !   It is probably impossible for even totalitarian nations to
        completely keep out some influence of popular culture
Communication barriers
! Government censorship can also provide barriers to
   !   Example of Islamic fundamentalist regime in Iran —
       outlawed television satellite dishes in 1995
   !   Control of media can approach control of the mind in
       popular culture
   !   Repressive regimes must cope with a proliferation of
       communication methods
   !   Status of inward-looking “hermit” nations is probably no
       longer attainable
Communication barriers
! Newspapers also act as selective barriers
  ! Reinforce the effect of political boundaries
  ! Between 21 and 48 percent of all news
    published in Canadian newspapers is of
    foreign origin, mainly United States news
  ! About 12 percent of news in American
    newspapers foreign
Diffusion of the rodeo
! Rooted in ranching culture of North American West
    and has never completely escaped that setting
!   Modern rodeo had its origin in folk tradition
!   Began simply as roundups of cattle in Spanish
    livestock ranching
!   Started in northern Mexico and the American
!   Word rodeo derived from the Spanish rodear, “to
    surround” or “to round up”
Diffusion of the rodeo
! Cowboys from adjacent ranches began
  holding informal contests at roundup time to
  display their skills
! After the Civil War, some cowboy contests on
  the Great Plains became formalized, with
  prizes awarded
Diffusion of the rodeo
! Transition to commercial rodeo, with admission
  tickets and grandstands, came quickly
! The “Wild West Show” and its role in the diffusion of
  the rodeo
   !   A rodeo at North Platte, Nebraska in 1882 led to some
       events being included in a Wild West Show held in
       Omaha in 1883
   !   Wild West Shows moved by railroad from town to town
   !   Probably provided the most potent agent of early rodeo
Diffusion of the rodeo
! Within a decade of the Omaha affair
  commercial rodeos were being held
  independently of Wild West Shows at several
  ! The first apparently at Prescott, Arizona, in
  ! By 1900, commercial rodeos appeared
    throughout much of the West
  ! Frontier Days rodeo, at Cheyenne, Wyoming,
    was first held in 1897
Diffusion of the rodeo
! By World War I, rodeos became an institution in provinces of
  western Canada
! The Calgary Stampede began in 1912
! Professional rodeos are now held in 36 states and 3 Canadian
   ! Oklahoma listed 98 scheduled events in 1977
        !   Ethnic and gender lives have been crossed
        !   Creek Nation All Indian Rodeo at Okmulgee
        !   All Girls Rodeo at Duncan
        !   All Black Rodeo at Wewoka
   !   In Texas and other states, rodeo competition has become an
       official high school sport
   !   Major acceptance is found west of the Mississippi River
Diffusion of the rodeo
! Absorbing and permeable barriers to diffusion
   ! Mexico—bullfighting occupies a dominant position
   ! Mormon culture region centered in Utah
   ! In central Mexico the charreada exists as a unique
     form of rodeo
   ! In California the rodeo penetrated the mountains to
     reach the Pacific
! Greatest strength of commercial rodeo lies in the
  cattle ranching areas
The American diner
! Restaurant in the general shape of a railroad or
  trolley car
! Experienced a failure to diffuse throughout the United
! Arose before World War II in the northeastern United
   !   Spread through the manufacturing belt states — New
       York City-Philadelphia urban quarter
   !   Perhaps as many as 6000 eateries were founded by
       26 companies
The American diner
! Spread of the diner generally failed in the
  American South
   ! Connoted cities, industries, ethnicity, and
   ! Threatened southern way of life
   ! Rejected from Virginia southward
   ! Only Florida proved receptive to the idea

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