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Cultural Studies: Ideology, Representation Essay

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Updated: Jan 7th, 2022

Semiotics

It is necessary to know what human society is like to understand what semiotics is. In general, semiotics is the study of signs. No wonder people who have no idea about this science at all usually keep on asking questions about what you mean by the signs. Semiotics studies the signs people produce consciously or subconsciously and the role of those signs within social life. It is not easy to present the most typical sign within this study case. I can say that the signs’ range varies from the road ones to the body language that only humans can read without even noticing it. To enlarge on the meaning of semiotics I may call it a part of the communication process between people. It is one of the facets through which thought is conveyed from one person to another. Examples include sounds, gestures, and even textures.

Consumer Society

A consumer society is a term frequently addressed when speaking about Western countries. The US is now a country organized around the consumption of goods and entertainment. Of course, from one point of view, this is a part of economics that forces our country to stand on a powerful basis within the macroeconomy. However, consumer society is particularly a term that defines a society that does not think about the production of goods. Moreover, consumer society entailed the emergence of the following developments: mass popular culture, the demise of social class, and enhancing individualism. Definitely, the existence of consumer society also means the emergence of a very distinct line between the rich and the poor.

Ideology

Ideology is an idea that is thought of as a comprehensive vision proposed to the entire society to follow the offered tendencies. For us, ideology is important as a matter of influencing factor on society directly. Also, once the society accepts the rules or does not, ideology edges politics closely. The main idea of ideology is to kindly force society to adhere to the rules that will most likely conform to different aspects of social, political, and economical life. Ideology is the way society looks at things. Once again, ideology is a social order accepted by the society naturally or forced to accept, thus reflecting the ideas of the political system. Each political system in the world has ideological ideas to a certain extent.

Representation

It is very important to understand the order and the needs of the society of nowadays. Undeniable, the needs of the social groups have been changing through times along with political events that took place in the country. The term representation has evolved and became memorable at the dawn of the US’ independence well known along with the term ‘taxation without representation’. Today the meaning of representation has not changed greatly. Still, representation in terms of politics has a great influence on the lives of ordinary people for a certain period of time. Within the society in particular the representation is a term that is used to denote ‘the use of language and images to create meaning about the world around us’ (Sturken, p. 12). Representation is basically what a society is built out of people living in it and the way people express their heritage visually and verbally.

Essay

Response to Mr. Macdonald Saying

Of course, it is hard to admit that contemporary society is far from the elite norms that were fascinating several decades ago. No wonder people argue about ‘mass culture is not and can never be any good’, it is a very debatable topic. The terms of mass culture and high culture, however, cannot be contrasted, to my mind.

It is sometimes called ‘Popular Culture’,’ but I think ‘Mass Culture’ a more accurate term, since its distinctive mark is that it is solely and directly an article for mass consumption, like chewing gum.’ (Macdonald, p.39) This was said by Dwight Macdonald, though I will tend to disagree. The actual disagreement lies in the phrase itself and how it contradicts itself. First of all a comparison of the chewing gum is disadvantageous from the very beginning. Since we all know that the faster the society develops the more progressive the changing views of society will be. Hence, it is somewhat insulting to contend that the popular culture is the same as mass culture just because it is designed for consumption; besides, it attaches a meaning that mass culture is something really underrated, whereas both mass culture and popular culture mean practically the same disregarding all attempts of prominent sociologists to separate them and subsequently put those on scales.

However, there statement ‘mass culture is not and can never be any good’ by Dwight Macdonald is true in some way. With the development of electronic media a sense of art has gained totally new meaning. The book, radio, music, and film industry began to ascent fascinatingly rapidly. Ultimately, those industries had gained a status of genuine art. Unfortunately, there was noticed a tendency of averaging after the technology development. Moreover, the American society now represents a community easily controllable through the means of mass media.

So, in order to argue the statement adequately I would like to pay your attention to the fact Stuart Hall produced: ‘continuous struggle over the culture of working people, the laboring classes, and the poor’ (p. 70) that emerged way long ago and is existent today, though maybe not so evidently, destructs society. Nevertheless, it has to be noticed that modern society is still split in parts according to the categories of poor and rich. Moreover, I can admit that the mass culture did its part in the modern division. Not only are we ruled by the elite through mass media, also, mass or popular culture brings explicit images of violence and sex on the screens. ‘Change has been so catastrophic’, says F.R.Leavis ‘that the generations find it hard to adjust themselves to each other, and parents are helpless to deal with their children’. (p. 34) Ina word it is hard to imagine what the planet will be like in several decades. Of course, the society has been developing to the way it is for more than thousands years though we have to remember that nowadays the speed of such development I much higher. Thus, the changes in the social order and social beliefs are noticed every year. Hence, we can wait for a real misunderstanding in between the social layers and between the generations in the nearest future since the generation gap is already a huge issue in the United Sates and all over the world.

Humanity has generated its own position on the role of culture in human development. One of those is the most influential kind of art – the film. Through the movie the society gets an illusion of the life we have. This is a topic that the world should be concerned of. Of course, it is undeniable that Hollywood has become the most powerful industrial movie-maker. However, the question is raised subsequently – whom are these movies made for and why? What makes our people want to see the simplified lives and believe that there is something much better or, on the contrary, much worse. The High Culture – in due time – was astonishingly well representing the social order of the current society. People read books full of relevant thoughts and knew that the society does correlate with the read information. Nowadays, it is hard to believe anything you hear, read, or see.

Successful advertisement underwent surprising changes in several decades. The society is experiencing a profound use of applied psychology. The successfully completed advertisement campaign is not the one that carried out several predictions on why the customer will buy this or that. Successful advertisement is the one that appealed to all social layers. F.R. Leavis remarks: ‘copywriting depends upon… the way average people think and act, and the way they react to suggestions of various kinds’. (p. 35) This is evident that the society does not want to think anymore adequately, it is becoming the consumer society which means that we want to consume rather than produce. This entails total control over the nation and society’s values. Therefore, the society becomes bound to the fetishism of commodities. Karl Marx wrote explicitly in his work about it: ‘Fetishism … attaches itself to the products of labour, so soon as they are produced as commodities, and which is therefore inseparable from the production of commodities’ (Marx, p.92) I am afraid to imagine where this kind of passive social expression will bring us. While today the copywriters force us to buy whatever through the applied psychology skills, we are not challenged to think, the society becomes average in all means. Nevertheless, there is a sub-culture (let me call it that way) called avant-garde that is amazing and we owe it everything we have gained for the past fifty years. This is some kind of a fenced off culture. As a matter of fact, High Culture has much in common with the Avant-gardism. However, I guess a little more value has avant-garde culture nowadays since everything has formed the mass culture of nowadays.

Coming back to the issue of popular culture and mass culture it is important to outline that popular culture is a bit narrower term than a mass culture. ‘The term popular has very close relations to the term ‘class’… We speak of the particular form of working class’. (Hall, p.68) So, popular culture is something invented for some certain population. I would tend to claim that the contemporary culture resembles more a popular culture. I cannot really imagine some sort of art branch being completely unavailable to the society. There is merely noting today that is closed to public. However, I have to point out that the income level today is a great obstacle for someone though every art is available. So, as I see it, our society struggles over the popular culture today. To crown it all I must say that any stream that our society faces is an inevitable product of what we actually do. We form the society’s order by ourselves and sometimes it becomes very hard to follow the fluency of where we all flow.

Works Cited

Hall, Sturart. “Note on Deconstructing ‘The Popular’.” Popular Culture.> Raiford Guins & Omayra Zaragoza Cruz. London: Sage Publications Ltd, 2005. 64-71.

Leavis, Frank. R. “Mass Civilization and Minority Culture.” Popular Culture.> Raiford Guins & Omayra Zaragoza Cruz. London: Sage Publications Ltd, 2005. 33-38.

Macdonald, Dwight. “A Theory of Mass Culture.” Popular Culture.> Raiford Guins & Omayra Zaragoza Cruz. London: Sage Publications Ltd, 2005. 39-46.

Marx, Karl. “The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof.” Popular Culture.> Raiford Guins & Omayra Zaragoza Cruz. London: Sage Publications Ltd, 2005. 89-95.

Sturken M., Catwright L. Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2009. Print.

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