Why Is Popular Culture Widely Distributed?

Why Is Popular Culture Widely Distributed?
Regional differences in more developed countries are much less than in
the past
-suburban areas from Maine to Oregon have similar houses,
people wear the same style of clothing, and the same chain
delivers pizza
Popular Housing Styles (Fig. 4-11)
Houses built in U.S. since 1945 reflect in vogue architectural styles
Why Is Popular Culture Widely Distributed?
Modern House Styles (1945—60)
Minimal traditional (mini-Tudor)
Ranch
Split-level
Contemporary style
Why Is Popular Culture Widely Distributed?
Neo-eclectic House Styles (1960—present):
Mansard
Neo-Tudor
Neo-French
Neo-colonial
Why Is Popular Culture Widely Distributed?
Rapid Diffusion of Clothing Styles:
Individual clothing habits reveal how popular culture can be distributed
across the landscape with little regard for physical features
In MDC’s, clothing habits generally reflect occupations rather than
environments
-lawyers in California and New York dress alike (suit and tie)
(same in most MDCs)
Why Is Popular Culture Widely Distributed?
Likewise, factory workers across the country also dress the same
-jeans
Why Is Popular Culture Widely Distributed?
Incomes also influence clothing in MDCs
-women’s clothing
Why Is Popular Culture Widely Distributed?
Improved communications have
permitted rapid diffusion of clothing
styles
-clothing created in Paris, Milan,
London, and New York
-mass manufactured in Asia
-sold in chain stores throughout North
America and Western Europe
New clothing styles can diffuse
across Earth in less than six weeks
Why Is Popular Culture Widely Distributed?
Jeans: a symbol of diffusion of Western popular culture
-up through the 1950s, jeans were the symbol of low-status, manual
laborers
-during the 1960s, jeans became a symbol of youthful independence
Denim trousers can be bought for $10 or less, but
“genuine” Levi-Strauss jeans are a status symbol
and sell from $50--$150
-second-hand jeans in Asia sell for between $500 and
$1000 (Japan, Thailand)
Why Is Popular Culture Widely Distributed?
Communist governments forbade the importation of jeans
-was a symbol of capitalism and Western economies
-gangs would attack individuals and steal their jeans
-sold in the underground market for $400 or more
Communist governments were inefficient at producing consumeroriented goods
-since the fall of communism, jeans are now allowed in Moscow
-sell for about $50, which is about a week’s wage for an average
Russian worker
Why Is Popular Culture Widely Distributed?
Popular Food Customs:
Popular culture is able to flourish when:
•Sufficient income to acquire popular items
•Leisure time to make use of these popular items
•Usually found in MDCs
Higher consumption of large quantities of alcoholic
beverages and snack foods are found in popular
societies
-dependent upon high income and national
advertising
Why Is Popular Culture Widely Distributed?
Diffusion of Television:
*television is the most popular leisure
activity in MDCs
*television is the most important
mechanism by which knowledge of
popular culture is rapidly diffused across
Earth
U.S. public first saw television in the 1930s
During World War II, television
broadcasting was suspended
In 1945, only 10,000 television receivers in
the U.S.
Why Is Popular Culture Widely Distributed?
By 1949, the number increased to 1 million
-1951: 10 million
-1959: 50 million (over 75% of all U.S. homes)
Why Is Popular Culture Widely Distributed?
During the 1950s, only 20 countries were selling television sets
-the U.S. had 85% of all TV sets
By the early 1960s, 62 countries were selling TV sets
-the U.S. still had over 50%
By the end of the 1960s, 91 countries (about 229 million total TV sets)
-the U.S. had about 33%
By the end of the 1990s, 180 countries (about 900 million total TV sets)
-the U.S. had about 20%
Why Is Popular Culture Widely Distributed?
About 30 countries (mostly in the poorest African and Asian nations)
have very few TV sets
-Afghanistan’s Taliban government made it illegal to watch TV
-if caught, 1-to-3 months in prison and confiscation of equipment
-if caught viewing a show with sex scenes, 1-to-3 years in prison
-usually use DVD players to view smuggled movies from Pakistan
Why Is Popular Culture Widely Distributed?
Diffusion of the Internet
-following a similar pattern of diffusion as television
Worldwide Internet Hosts:
•213 in 1981
•376,000 in 1990
•72 million in 2000
•172 million in 2003 (over 65% in U.S.)
Likely to spread to other countries like television did
Why Is Popular Culture Widely Distributed?
Government Control of Television
-television stations are mostly owned by private corporations in Western
Hemisphere countries
-this pattern not found elsewhere in the world
-they sell air time for advertising
-they are given licenses from the government to operate at a
given frequency
-most other governments control TV stations or appoints a board to do so
-they minimize showing programs that may be hostile to current
policies (censured)
-degree of censorship varies by country
Why Is Popular Culture Widely Distributed?
BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation):
-accepts no advertising
-obtains revenue from the sale of licenses which are required of all TV
receiver owners
Why Is Popular Culture Widely Distributed?
In the past, people turned on their TVs to watch
what the government wanted them to see
In 1949, George Orwell wrote the novel “1984”
-he predicted that television would play a
major role in the ability of a totalitarian
government to control people’s daily lives
Why Is Popular Culture Widely Distributed?
Recently, changing technology (satellite tv) has allowed people to view a
wide variety of programs from other countries
-in the past, regular tv signals would fade after about 60 miles
-this made it easier for government to control
Some governments restrict ownership of satellite receivers
-China, Singapore, Saudi Arabia-says they are ‘un-Islamic’
Why Is Popular Culture Widely Distributed?
Despite the threat of heavy fines, these governments have had a difficult
time restricting satellite receivers
Satellite TV helped to bring down communism in Eastern Europe
-people were able to view programs from beyond the
government-controlled broadcasting stations
Satellite TVs, as well as fax machines, portable video recorders, and
cell phones, have all made government censorship more difficult
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