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Beauty and Harmony in Cultural Studies and Social Tastes Essay


In what specific ways does Cultural Studies play a part in deconstructing (critical analyzing) the world as it is?

Theodor Adorno

Cultural studies allow an individual to integrate old and new cultural perspectives, resulting in a new approach to a social factor. Cultural studies are important in the development of the consciousness of its consumers. It structures people’s perspective on a certain social practice thereby changing their approach to it. The media sometimes presents cultural practices that enlighten people on advice and stress-reducing patterns of behavior.

Cultural studies help people distinguish the truth about something as opposed to the deception that is common in the media sector. Adorno notes that people are more attracted to deception as a means for achieving gratification mostly through entertainment (5). Cultural studies provide people with more or fewer standards for orientation necessary in the current chaotic world (Adorno 5). The author observes that a film destroys good old culture/traditions by killing its ideal image (Adorno 6).

A homeland cannot survive after its processing by a film, because it transforms the unique character on which it thrives into an altered sameness. As a result, filmmakers need to take further consideration when filming an element about personal lives.

Cultural studies enable people to get the reality about the life of different people, unlike the way it is presented in the media. The author argues that culture cannot signify things that just exist or the predictable and no longer binding categories of order which the culture industry hides concerning the perception of the good life contrasting the existing reality and that those categories were its true indicators. Culture studies enlighten people against the false feeling of well-being that the media suggests.

Media informs the mass that the world is not precisely in the order the culture industry presents. Cultural studies save the mass from deceit by the media industry, which provides alternate gratification to the mass thereby cheating them of true happiness (Adorno 8).

Roland Barthes

Barthes argues that cultural studies bring out the difference between people, thereby emphasizing exoticism (1). This realization often may lead people to despise fellow humans because of their cultural differences, which may breed hatred in different communities resulting in stereotypes. On the other hand, cultural studies have facilitated unity among people across the world. Cultural studies help to reveal that humans share the same innate cultural practices including birth, work, and death.

Although there may be some ethnic peculiarity, an underlying identical nature indicates that diversity is merely formal and does not abolish the existent of a common make. This practice highlights an important perspective of a certain community of people to the world so that well-off communities can help to solve or reduce the problem and this is the rationale behind Barthes’s argument that cultural exhibition should focus on the problem associated with the situation (1).

Dwight McBride

Different cultures have different perspectives on an object or solution. Thus, cultural studies expose a person to such a varied approach of the day-to-day encounters, thereby helping him/her develop an open mind about anything. In this regard, people can apply the same procedure for resolving an issue. Cultural studies can help people appreciate other cultures by adopting principles that support their existence.

For instance, McBride argues that the United States can loosen its grips a bit and accept more of a live-and-let-live policy concerning human pleasures (3). It also helps people to approach a social issue from a different viewpoint. It makes people change their stand on a previously obnoxious matter such as gay activities, and have a lighter judgment on this population. McBride supposes that when given a closer consideration, it is likely that some of the behaviors treated as vices may be better perceived as extensions of humanity instead of pervasion of a certain idealized form of it (3). Cultural studies make such a fundamental approach to understanding humanity and might help a lot in changing the situation of some ill-publicized population such as homosexuals. Thus, cultural study promotes democracy.

In what specific ways do cultural studies help us reconstruct and remake the world as we think it ought to be?

John Fiske

Cultural studies through aestheticism can universalize certain social tastes into asocial and ahistorical values of beauty and harmony. Aestheticism also constructs from them a manmade set of universals that presume to present the finest, best, and most ethical factors of the human status. Thus, cultural studies lead to critical discrimination, which then masks the social object behind the aesthetics, so that aesthetics quality becomes a disguised marker of the social quality of persons who could recognize it (Fiske 216).

Also, cultural artifacts serve as reminders of family histories, holidays, or helps one understand and thereby cope with his/her subornation in society. Analysis of the paintings in homes can help us understand how different classes of people appreciate different aspects of life. For instance, upper-middle and working-class preferred painting of landscape to those of family members or friends or homelands preferred by the working class.

Sturken and Cartwright

Cultural studies enable us to take an active position regarding an image. An active position means that we can negotiate with or oppose a cultural image or an artifact presented. According to Sturken and Cartwright, negotiation means “a form of bargaining on the meaning that occurs between the viewer, image, and context” (74).

Interpretation of an image denotes a mental clash of acceptance and denials of the meaning and connection that surrounds a particular image through the impact of the dominant ideologies. Through the process of interpretation, viewers actively engage with dominant meanings, letting personal and culturally specific meanings to change and even superseded the meaning imposed by the producers and general social elements (Sturken and Cartwright 74). Culture studies, therefore, allow us to perceive ourselves as active meaning-makers as opposed to mere passive recipients in the protocol of images decoding.

Many countries all across the world, can naturally emulate a popular culture. For instance, Britain developed the Pop Idol, which later became the Idol series that currently has versions in many countries under a national label such as the “American Idol, Philippine Idol, Deutschland such den Superstar, Australian Idol and so forth” (Sturken and Cartwright 74). Further, the authors assert that the idol series is based on the ideology “that ordinary people can rise to stardom and celebrity purely based on their talents” (Sturken and Cartwright 74). Viewers also derive gratification from watching the contestants succeed, fail, and the panel of judges criticizing them. For those versions of the series that designate nationality, the show conveys certain values concerning national identity.

Some versions including American Idol that allow the audience to vote for contestants signify a bunch of ideological beliefs concerning democracy. The audience usually votes as a component of a product placement deal with a specific telephone service provider. Lastly, a prominent impression of the show would be that ordinary people get the same opportunities to be rewarded for their abilities as those who rely on wealth and social capital to build fame.

Cultural studies conducted to analyze viewer responses to cultural text focus on the question of reception. Viewer reception often involves observation of individual viewers in interpreting and drawing a conclusion from watching and using cultural products. Current surveys on the number of viewers watching a television show have declined. Therefore, industries may carry out cultural surveys on viewers through marketing research and focused group to find out their opinions on various shows, products, and advertisement, to find out what interest the viewer-consumer (Sturken and Cartwright 75). These studies may culminate in educational TV programs that may serve to enlighten viewers.


When a subculture starts to curve its niche within the community, people can understand the referential context that it can best fit and this helps accept certain groups such as the glitter rockers, the punks, and the mods into the general society. Cultural studies facilitate the recuperation of social integrity and the incorporation of emerging subcultures as a perverting spectacle in the dominant mythology.

Recuperation of these subcultures usually takes up two forms; first, the conversion of subcultural indicators, including dress and music, into mass-produced items. Second, it involves “the labeling and redefinition of pervert behavior by dominant hegemonic groups, such as police, the media, and the judiciary” (Hebdige 357). Various industries have exploited the subculture form concerned with consumption since it operates in the leisure domain. These subcultures communicate through commodities. “Each new subculture establishes new trends, generates new looks and sounds which feedback into the appropriate industries” (Hebdige 357).


Cultural analysis of the different genres of music, especially hip-hop, helps to explain its origin and its nature, thereby allowing other groups (other than blacks) to produce them. Indeed, cultural studies can help expand a cultural product beyond those groups that invented them (Lipsitz 512). Cultural studies provide a different view of a concept and thus inviting other groups to exploit it economically.

Discuss one specific way this class has influenced or changed your understanding of yourself and/or the world you inhabit

Cultural studies class has helped me develop new viewpoints on our personal as well as professional lives. The sociological insight I have gained can help others and me to make the world a better place. This class has increased my understanding of the relationship between media and politics across the world. Numerous commentators argue that news media has the power to ‘move and shake governments’ (Robinson 524), and now I concur with such a statement.

News media coverage demonstrates the ability to inspire Western interventions in circumstances of humanitarian crises. Politicians are increasingly appreciating the importance of news media coverage in influencing policies to comeback to humanitarian problems. I have to appreciate the role of the media in mobilizing support for policy favoritism of dominant elites. Finally, given the reduction of the world into one big global village courtesy of media and technological advancement, I can now appreciate other cultures despite their diverse practices.

Works cited

Adorno, Theodor. The cultural industry reconsidered. London: Routledge, 1991. Print.

Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. New York: Noonday Press. Print.

Fiske, John. Popular discrimination. In Guins, Raiford & Zaragoza, Cruz. Popular culture. London: SAGE Publications, 2005. Print.

Hebdige, Dick. Subculture. In Guins, Raiford & Zaragoza, Cruz. Popular culture. London: SAGE Publications, 2005. Print.

Lipsitz, George. Diasporic noise: History, Hip Hop, and the Post-Colonial Politics of Sound. In Guins, Raiford & Zaragoza, Cruz. Popular culture. London: SAGE Publications, 2005.

McBride, Dwight. Why I hate Abercrombie & Fitch. New York: NYUP, (n.d). Print.

Robinson, Piers. Theorizing the Influence of Media on World Politics. European Journal of Communication 16.4 (2001): 523-544.

Sturken, Marita, & Cartwright, Lisa. Viewers make meaning. London: Oxford University Press.

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