Popular Culture

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					Popular Culture


        Chapter 8
    The Human Mosaic
Characteristics of popular culture
 Constantly changing
 Based in large, heterogeneous groups of
  people
 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
  people
 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
       conversations
      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
  condos.
 Their style is no style; a
  sense of sameness
  pervades.
 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
  change
      We and our recent ancestors embraced the free, open,
       dynamic life-style offered by popular culture
      Science challenged religion for dominance in our daily
       lives
      We profited greatly in material terms through this
       transition
      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
  change
      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

           relationships
          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
  America
    One place become much like another, robbed of its
      geographical essence
    Pervasive influence of a continental or worldwide popular
      culture
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-style clusters‖
  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
  education
      Like bowling and ice hockey
      Three times as likely to live in rowhouses or duplexes
 Residents of Norma Rae-Vile
    Mostly nonunion factory workers
    Have trouble making ends meet
    Consume twice as much canned stew as the national
     average
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
  culture
 Must remember region and place exist from
  micro to macro scales
Cyberspace
 Perhaps the personal computer and Internet
  access have created another new type of
  place
 Certain words we use imply it has a
  geography—‖Cyberspace‖
 The information superhighway connects not
  two points, but all points, creating a new sort
  of place
Cyberspace
 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
     ecology
    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

         themselves
       The breath and spirit of place cannot exist in

         cyberspace
    These are not real places and never can be
Cyberspace
 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
       West
      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
          mid-1950s
Food and drink
 Importance of fast food restaurants varies
  greatly within the United States
     Stronghold is in the South — 57 percent in
      Mississippi
     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
Sports
 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
  professional
 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
Sports
 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
Sports
 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
      areas
     Baseball came to rule supreme in some states
     Ice hockey reigned in still other provinces
Sports
 Participant sports reveal similar
  regionalization
 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
    inhabitants
   Product of the spatial perception of the population at
    large
   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
    borders
Vernacular culture regions
 Example of ―Green Country‖ in northeastern
  Oklahoma
      Name pushed by Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation
       Commission
      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
       perceived
Vernacular culture regions
 Joseph Brownell, in 1960, sought to delimit the
  ―Midwest‖
      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
  South‖
 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
       markets
Hierarchical diffusion
 Wal-Mart stores
   Diffused from its Arkansas base in a largely contagious
    pattern
   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
     days
    Rapid diffusion enhances the chance for change in
     popular culture
Advertising
 Most effective device for popular culture
  diffusion
 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
Advertising
 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
  ―American.‖
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
  demand?
 Where do you think they are
  manufactured?
 What signs do you
  recognize?
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
  contact
      Americans lineup to hear touring British rock musicians
      Rocky Mountain ski resorts are built in Alpine-Swiss
       architecture
      Latest Paris fashions appear in American department
       stores
      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
                     ones.
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
     rap‖
 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
             influence
            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
  diffusion
      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
    Southwest
   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
Diffusion of the rodeo
 Within a decade of the Omaha affair
  commercial rodeos were being held
  independently of Wild West Shows at several
  towns
     The first apparently at Prescott, Arizona, in
      1888
     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
  provinces
    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
  States
 Arose before World War II in the northeastern United
  states
      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
       ―northernness‖
      Threatened southern way of life
      Rejected from Virginia southward
      Only Florida proved receptive to the idea

				
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