Cultural Studies and History Popular Culture and Modernity

The term culture means a general process of intellectual, spiritual and aesthetic development as in philosophy, art, and poetry (Storey, 2006: 1). Williams (1983: 87) suggests that culture also can be used to refer to those texts and practices whose principal function is to signify, to produce or to be the occasion for the production of meaning. In this definition, culture is synonymous with the structuralists and post-structuralists’ term signifying practices for which examples are in drama, ballet, opera, fine art, and novel. Culture also suggests a particular way of life, of a people, a period or a group. The term popular culture is based on the meanings of culture as a particular way of life, as in the celebration of festivals, seaside holidays, or youth subcultures. and are referred to as lived cultures or practices. Popular culture that relates to culture as signifying practices is exemplified in the soap opera, pop music, and comics. Modernity was the era during which the meaning underlying overt appearances was interpreted, and reality was sought out. The main impact of modernism on popular culture was its claim that any difference between high and low culture was obsolete (Storey, 2006: 1-2, 130). From its early roots in Britain, in the course of its development cultural studies has challenged established cultural norms and disciplinary boundaries. It has focused attention on aspects such as cultural theory, popular culture and the media (Knellwolf et al, 2001: 155). The development of cultural studies has influenced other disciplines such as history, drama, and literary studies, encouraging a more inclusive approach to the range of concepts. According to Bennett (1980: 18), as it stands, the concept of popular culture is virtually useless, a melting pot of confused and contradictory meanings capable of misdirecting inquiry up any number of theoretical bling alleys.