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Popular Culture And Violent Behavior Essay

11795 words - 47 pages

Popular Culture and Violent Behavior


In 1871 E.B. Taylor defined culture as 'that complex whole which
includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, customs, and many other
capabilities and habits acquired by...[members] of society.'[1]

Taylor was talking about 'high' culture, an aristocratic view of the
past-times such as ballet, theatre and art. Popular culture, on the
other hand, is a form of 'low' culture and is based primarily on
marketing, mass production and revenue. Low culture is what is sold to
the masses, ergo, low culture equals mass culture. All these terms
refer to popular culture, defined in the Oxford Dictionary of
Sociology as:

'…accessible to everyone. Popular culture is far more widespread than
'high' culture and in the United Statesand in Europe, for example, it
is dominated by television, films and recorded popular music.' [2]

I have chosen to study popular culture and its influence on violent
behaviour, because, as is stated in its definition, popular culture
is, 'accessible to everyone.' These hugely accessible forms of media
influence all of us, everyday, wherever we go. My keen interest in all
of these forms of media immediately drew me to the subject;
television, film and music are major influences not only in my life
but in the lives of teenagers across Western Europe, Australasia,
Developed Asia and the United States of America. Despite this easy
accessibility of popular culture - film, television, music and radio -
to young people, popular culture and adolescence are not mutually
exclusive with the effects and the range of mass media affecting one
in three adults in America. [3]

Thus, the appeal for this investigation was personal and lay in my
yearning to discover whether this correlation between violence and
popular culture really existed, and if it did, how strong and
influential were its effects on individuals and society?

The question I have posed is a very contentious one, which has been
debated by scholars and graduates for some time, with many arguing
that popular culture and mass media are ways of brainwashing the
'masses' into the ways of a dominant social order. Others believe that
popular culture is a type of 'folk' culture which encompasses the idea
of an 'alternative' culture incorporating minority groups, perhaps
with subversive values sometimes challenging the dominant control
groups, as was scene with the advent of the 'Indie' music scene in the
mid nineteen nineties.

In this dissertation I aim to uncover whether aforementioned
'subversive values' can be uncovered in popular culture or whether
popular culture is really a means by which the masses can direct
dominant controlling forces.

The main way I will do this is through my research into violent
behaviour and the impact that popular...

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