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Mass Society and Popular Culture Theories Term Paper


Mass society and popular culture theories give two quite different perspectives on the relationships between media and audiences. The two theories depend on an explicit division amid the present and the past (Beaty, 2005). This division is usually used to denote the path of social transformation from a healthier past to a deteriorating and unappealing present. Mass society is generally used as a phrase disparaging the significance of commercially promoted entertainment and arts delivered to appeal to persons in specific demographic groups (Beaty, 2005). On the other hand, popular culture generally refers to ordinary aesthetic or life performances, in both the statistical and qualitative mind (Guins & Cruz, 2005).This paper shall explore the similarities and differences amid these two theories.

A Comparison between Mass Society and Popular Culture

Both the popular culture and the mass society are theories that are used to explain perspectives in media. According to Edelstein (1997), mass society theory asserts that if persons are ordered into masses, they compromise on their human character and value since they lose their family and community relationships. According to this theory, each person exists as a lone atom; identical with and undistinguished from large numbers of other atoms who head out to structure the lonely mass (Jacobs, 1992).

From this standpoint, mass society is a homogeneous, prescribed, cyclic and outward culture, one which enjoys inconsequential, sloppy, direct and sham pleasures at the cost of firm, logical, conventional and genuine vales. Adorno (2001) argues that mass culture is a desecrated insignificant culture that evades both the deep certainties such as death and simple impulsive joys. This happens because the certainties would be too authentic and the joys too sparkling to support a narcotized approval of mass society and the things it sells as an alternate for the disconcerting and erratic joy, misfortune, humor, transformation, novelty and attractiveness of true life. Conversely, a popular culture is a society or a group of work folks connected to every other by traditions, general interests, vocation, morals and feelings.

Popular culture emerged from the grassroots and is usually independent. It openly considers the practices and lives of the public. On the other hand, the mass society theory emerged after urbanization and industrialization. Following these events, the structure of the society and morality broke down, persons grew to be estranged, isolated, and stalled in ever more contractual and monetary social affairs. Until now, individuals are engrossed into an increasingly mysterious mass, controlled by their sole source of a proxy morality and culture, the mass media. In this culture, the mass society stems the popular culture hence impairing the reliability of art (Strinati, 2004).

The popular culture developed from underneath. It was an impulsive expression of the community that was individually formed virtually without the advantage of a high culture, to meet the needs of the community. On the other hand, the mass society is enforced from the top. It’s constructed by experts who are hired by businessmen. Its audiences are usually dormant consumers, whose involvement is typically restricted.

Popular culture was established by the people themselves. According to Gorman (1996) “their personal small plot walled off from the vast formal square of their masters’ high culture” (p. 57). However, mass society crashes the wall incorporating the masses into a desecrated structure of high culture and hence becoming a tool of political power.

Mass cultural goods can be prepared in huge figures by mass fabrication industries. Hence, there is no logic in building demands upon testing the audience in the manner that popular culture may do, or portraying it into real and genuine shapes of communal involvement as popular culture may do, given that their circumstances can no longer be continued (Edelstein, 1997). As a substitute, the mass audience exists to have its feelings and responsiveness controlled, to have its desires and wants distorted and disenchanted and to have its expectations and ambitions subjugated on behalf of utilization by the meretricious feelings and the sham thoughts of mass culture.

Mass society, different from the popular culture, declines to wait in its position and join with the masses, but has affectations beyond its position and worth. It declines to identify conventional hierarchies of taste, and the educational differences created by those at the zenith. For some scholars mass society is a menace since it can destabilize the differences established amid the popular culture and the elite (Lazere, 1987). It can designate, while simultaneously trivializing and degrading what high culture should present. Hence, mass society is a society which is short of intellectual encouragement and challenge, offering in its place the undemanding easiness of desire and distraction.

It’s s a society that depresses the endeavor of thinking and makes its own expressive and sappy reactions. It does not require that its audience reflect solely as it practices its own reactions and considers reactions which are rational and vital. In this logic, it commences to categorize social authenticities for the mass community. It therefore attempts to abridge the actual world over any sheen issues. If these issues are identified, it typically treats them ostensibly by presenting slick and sham resolutions. It similarly supports commercialism and boasts consumerism as well as the merits of market and profit. In addition, just as it refuses logical challenge it endeavors to calm other opposing tones since it is a stultifying and mollifying culture.

Popular culture is a society; a group of folks connected to each other by similar interests, vocation, customs, morals and feelings. Every member has a unique place and operates as an entity while simultaneously sharing the group’s culture, welfare and feelings. The entity here is more significant than in a mass society and at one fell swoop, more included in the society. Conversely, a mass society similar to a crowd, is so undistinguished and loosely ordered that its atoms tend to come together barely along the column of the smallest regular denominator: its morals are submerged into that of its most vicious and primal members and its tang to that of the most ignorant and least responsive. Furthermore, the scale becomes too large, since normally there are loads of people.

The mass society lacks shape and structure. It is usually devoid of plans, policies, customs and mores. It lacks group awareness, collective feelings and ties of loyalty. In it, the folks are unspecified, lack social places and selected functions. On the other hand, popular culture is based on well established foundations of value, customs and sentiments (Gorman, 1996). The lack of institutions which bond creators with the audience causes severe effects. Audiences that symbolize organized crowds respond in a different way from unstructured mass, the type that has invaded as the intermediary of victory.

Finally, both theories have been affected by the new media. There has been a sweeping conversion of the common way of living, especially in how folks spend their free time and how they participate in festive occasions. Customary arts and leisure activities have been partially substituted by an exceptional flood of figurative goods created for the market or vend to media institutions for distribution to their viewers and listeners.

The Most Applicable Theory Today

In my opinion, the mass society is more applicable today. This is because media managers are forced to offer entertainment that is interesting to people in exacting demographic groups. The current market situation compels directors to take their audiences as a numerical mass, paying less or no concentration on people’s fundamental needs or aptitudes for growth. In the current mass society, the audience, carefully selected from higher status clusters, is substituted by an audience that has immediately congregated, one that in the classic example comes only as a result of one specific play.

There lacks a stable theater group with a unique range but there exists a cast amassed for the lone play. Such a transient variable audience requires novel sensations to rebuild, a situation bound to end in an escalating number of primary successes as the audience fascinated when the playwright first appears on the scene would previously have crumbled. Missing a loyal circle of supporters, writers and other cultural makers turn candidly to the open mass and in this way; they become more centered on the rules of group psychology than they are likely where there is a crude or socially changed organization to act as a cushion.

In conclusion, mass society and popular culture theories can be compared in several ways. Both theories are used to explain perspectives in media. The mass society theory asserts that if persons are ordered into masses, they compromise on their human character and value since they lose their family and community relationships. Here, each person exists as a lone atom; identical with and undistinguished from large numbers of other atoms who head out to structure the lonely mass. On the other hand, a popular culture is a society or a group of work folks connected to every other by traditions, general interests, vocation, morals and feelings. Popular culture emerged from the grassroots and is usually independent. It openly considers the practices and lives of the public. On the other hand, the mass society theory emerged after urbanization and industrialization.

Mass society, different from the popular culture, declines to wait in its position and join with the masses, but has affectations beyond its position and worth. It declines to identify conventional hierarchies of taste, and the educational differences created by those at the zenith. Popular culture is a society; a group of folks connected to each other by similar interests, vocation, customs, morals and feelings. Every member has a unique place and operates as an entity while simultaneously sharing the group’s culture, welfare and feelings. Conversely, a mass society similar to a crowd, is so undistinguished and loosely ordered that its atoms tend to come together barely along the column of the smallest regular denominator. The mass society lacks shape and structure. It is usually devoid of plans, policies, customs and mores. It lacks group awareness, collective feelings and ties of loyalty. On the other hand, popular culture is based on well established foundations of value, customs and sentiments.

References

Adorno, T. (2001). The culture industry: selected essays on mass culture. London New York: Routledge. Web.

Beaty, B. (2005). Fredric Wertham and the critique of mass culture. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. Web.

Edelstein, A. (1997). Total propaganda: from mass culture to popular culture. Mahwah, N.J: L. Erlbaum Associates. Web.

Gorman, P. (1996). Left Intellectuals & Popular Culture in Twentieth-Century America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. Web.

Guins, R. & Cruz, O. (2005). Popular Culture. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. Web.

Jacobs, N. (1992). Mass media in modern society. New Brunswick, U.S.A: Transaction Publishers. Web.

Lazere, D. (1987). American media and mass culture: left perspectives. Berkeley: University of California Press. Web.

Strinati, D. (2004). An Introduction to Theories of Popular Culture. New York: Routledge. Web.

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IvyPanda. "Mass Society and Popular Culture Theories." May 26, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mass-society-and-popular-culture-theories/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Mass Society and Popular Culture Theories." May 26, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mass-society-and-popular-culture-theories/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Mass Society and Popular Culture Theories'. 26 May.

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