Consumption Society and Culture Essay

  • Length: 12 pages
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  • Subject: Anthropology
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #93152147

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Consumption, Society and Culture

Cultural Industry

There are two social processes which are linked with each other and provide the basis of popular culture in modern capitalist societies. These two processes are related with production and consumption of cultural goods. In the first step, the commodities are produced in the light of customers' desirable features and packaged in culturally acceptable methods. In the second step, the products are used by their respective target markets as status symbols to satisfy self-esteem needs. The identification of the target market as a considerable portion of society is largely based on its presentation in fine arts particularly TV programs, music shows and films (Benjamin, 1968).

Social system is a comprehensive study, whose knowledge is mandatory to understand the popular culture. Artifacts represent the cultural symbols, yet these artifacts are strongly influenced by the taste and choice of professionals and cultural elites. There are many factors that lead to development of taste of these individuals. The important factors include corporate world and state interests. The artifacts resemble all these entities. The consumption of artifacts affects many things, for example, the actual work to be done, the meaning of work as assumed by people, the people who actually carry out the work and the people who are affected by work at any point in time (Benjamin, 1968).

There is a strong need of a complete study covering the process of production of products and artifacts, their signification and final consumption. All these aspects are interrelated on complex grounds and the relation should also be studied. All these aspects are determined and followed by each other. Popular culture, being anywhere, is emerging, changing and expanding. It is also true that it is reshaping itself and the society as well. All the aspects are expanded as well as contracted by each other (Berstein, 2001).

The corporate capitalist cultural process is dynamic and at times self-contradicting as well. Studies have presented research on hegemony in their British neo-Gramscian work. Hegemony is defined as a process of creating and maintaining rule over lower social class by the elite class. The rule is established by penetrating their ideology and daily practices. The elite class deliberately explains their own ideologies to the lower class. Such activities are enforced and promoted through rewards and trainings to the individuals working on the penetrating activities (Berstein, 2001).

In capitalist society, there exist special groups who undertake the penetrating and influencing activities as a job role. In order to present harmony and avoid interpersonal conflicts among these professionals, the elite members of the society and the target groups, these professionals adopt the lifestyle, values and symbols of elite class members. These professionals act as intermediaries between the upper class and lower class members. They are known as "organic intellectuals." They perform the functions of social interest integration, understanding promotion, ideal articulation and interest harmonization between the high and low (Berstein, 2001).

The resultant total culture as deliberately prepared by the professionals is influenced by many factors. At its core, it is shaped by the values and social symbols of elite class, while at other level, it reflects the norms and views of the professionals who promoted the elite culture. The social influences and market conditions also play their respective considerable role in the design and progress of total culture. It is also possible that the idea of promoting a practice is rejected by the professionals but it is accepted by society at large. There is also a need for cohesion among political and economic players so that the entire social structure can be aligned with the proposed cultural aspects (Berstein, 2001).

As mentioned earlier, hegemony is related to creating and maintaining rule of upper class over lower class. In this way, it promotes dominant culture. It can also help in extension of order establishment systematically. It is to be made clear that hegemony is a structured process designed for collaboration and not for imposition; hence it should be evaluated with the perspective of both upper and lower class (Canetti, 1996).

Ideology is not the views and beliefs which are at the disposal of social institutes and agencies that can manipulate it and present it the way they want to serve their interests. These institutions include socialization school, church, family and mass media. It is important to mention here that these institutions reshape themselves as per the dominant ideology. At times, these institutions play active role in promoting ideology in the entire society. It is also possible that the institutions promote their own interests in disguise of ideology. Ideology is developed through lived experiences and contains its roots therein. It is flourished through the activities carried out by individuals and institutions in the society (Canetti, 1996).

Ideology is defined as the assumptions, rules, and procedures which are neglected by the members of society. It is usually considered as common sense. It paves ways for hegemony that further leads to promotion of strong social groups by justifying their powers (Canetti, 1996).

Conclusively, hegemony can be better regarded as collaboration i.e. An irregular collaboration where the administration and limit setting of dominated and dominating groups' cultural expressions is carried out by the large-scale process of concentrated production. Hegemony coaxes, persuades, chastises, rewards and the absolute power compels although it is a collaboration. Hegemony can be defined as an organizational practice where the best hold the upmost position in the organization and supervise the subordinates in a manner which acts as a support of the position of those individuals. Thus, specific social space to modified options is assigned and approval is organized by hegemony; substitute options are forbidden by absolute power. Hegemony can be said to be a silent domination and is covered behind the backs of its conductors. With complete control of power, hegemony is the orchestration of the subordinates' determinations (Canetti, 1996).

The well-known fears, aspirations and conflicts are taken into consideration by the cultural industry, which is known to be its quality, and are then dealt in ways that incorporate well-known values into terms that can fit the hegemonic principles. The values and beliefs are focused and reproduced by the cultural industry through altering and amending features of ideology emerging from the social groups as well as the social elites found all through the society; the media individuals and social worlds are inclusive of this. Thus the ideology is not created from scratch by the culture industry. A tribute to the popular feeling by the hegemony can be amounted by the types of commercial culture which is a paraphrased saying regarding hypocrisy. The individuals having a powerful position and being at a delegating height of the cultural industry are basically orchestrators of its desires and projects rather than managing their mind efficiently. Their products, in addition of being commodities, are the efforts that attract towards famous beliefs and visuals, the efforts used to correct the rough edges, to break stubborn feelings, and to settle down the images and emotions which may be hard to settle down in the developed society (Canetti, 1996).

The word 'industry' in the 'culture industry' is less associated with process of production and actual development and more towards techniques and standardization of distribution. Thus Adorno stated not to take this word literally as his concentration may be towards that elite groups are the basic runners of culture industry and he adds that the consumers of culture industry are purposely incorporated from above. The importance of the word 'culture industry' towards him is due to his thought that masses are the only basis of mass culture. Thus the assessment towards this level of culture industry has been more like a conspiracy theory where the masses are regarded as the sufferers as a few people dominate the masses from above and operate the media and having a power of all other channels of mass ideology and culture. The misunderstanding is clearly communicated to Adorno. As an instance, it was declared by Adorno and Horkheimer that the culture industry which is favoured by the thinking of people is actually a part of the system instead of being an excuse towards it. A collective picture of any society is understood to be its culture. Regardless of the fact that powerful and overriding stakeholders shape the features of the culture, but they cannot be the sole creators of the culture and inside processes because what becomes popular is visible in collective social behaviour. Even you can find lots of features and elements of the popular culture in the mass media and its depiction of the society. However, still this doesn't mean that the powerful are the sole 'Godfathers' of culture (Adorno, 1992).

As the saying goes on, 'you can give lecture a man about philosophy, but can make him philosopher' the same goes for media and its depiction of social behaviours. There are many things which divert the attentions from popular behaviour as well as can attract towards it. However, this doesn't stop the culture and trends from…

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