Cultural Studies


final Early Modern Scotland Flashcards on Cultural Studies, created by Emily Fenton on 19/05/2014.
Emily Fenton
Flashcards by Emily Fenton, updated more than 1 year ago
Emily Fenton
Created by Emily Fenton almost 10 years ago

Resource summary

Question Answer
High Culture Highest form of cultures; intellectual Art, literature, classical music
Anthropological Definition of Culture The study of a set of morals, laws, beliefs, knowledge which can be ascribed to a community
Cultural Studies Interested in representations of culture: artifacts, texts, which people use in order to help them understand the real world. The way people use texts to find imaginary solutions to problems
Karl Marx 19th century, pro-socialist philosopher who advocated for a fully socialist society, where capitalism was crushed by revolution and replaced with utopian communism
Political Economy Relation between trade/production and politics (laws and government)
Mode of Production Means of production (factories, farms, technologies) + force of production (work force, labourers)
Ruptures in Modes of Production Marx's theory that between different modes of production, there are absolute differences between economic systems. Antique -> Feudal -> Capitalist Between each was a revolution which changed everything
Capitalism Involves private ownership of the means of production Based on the fundamental class division of bourgeoisie and the proletariat Bourgeoisie earns profit based on exploitation of the proletariat
Stages of Capitalism (according to Marx) Mercantile: European trading systems of the 14th century Industrial Capitalism: concerned with money, market-economy and wage labour Imperialistic: competitive domain of colonizing nations (includes slave labour)
Fordism Introduced in 1913 in order to develop the Model T Ford Uses an assembly-line model Division of labour allows for the specialization of tasks Financial incentives used to motivate workers Worker becomes a cog in a machine; will likely never see the final product Production is cheaper, so the worker can become the consumer
Consumption Culture A society based on the consumption of goods, services and commodities. Influenced by the large-scale production of standardized goods of the 20th century Relied on by producers as a "mass market"
Post Fordism Physical production outsourced to places where labour is cheaper Capital is no longer material, but based on trademarks, copyrights, logos, brands Allows for customization; niche market targetting
Post-Industrial Society After the heavy industry of the Industrial Revolution, the focus shifts towards specialized goods which require high-tech industry
Base-Superstructure (Marx) The relationship between the mode of production (base) and the laws, government (superstructure) Justified by societal beliefs about what is wrong or right Economic structure determines politics Based on the ideology of the dominant class
Commodification Turning something into a commodity; a profitable product Anything can become a commodity
Class Consciousness Dominant ideology is intended to mystify the lower classes; they remain blind to their own exploitation In order to gain class consciousness, one must be aware of their status/political power (conscious of class)
Industry of Culture Fordist model of all types of cultural production (clothes, films, music, comics) - everything standardized We know how movies go, we know certain tunes; we enjoy the predictability of culture Whereas: high art tests our standards and teaches us to think critically
Antonio Gramsci Italian Marxist theoritician and politician. Said that dominant class in fact needs consent from subordinate class in order to impose ideologies, otherwise there would be a revolution Never 100% successful in gaining consent of ideologies
Counter-hegemony Critical opposition of hegemonic power; can lead to a revolution if it becomes popular enough Questioning the ideologies of the dominant class, and resisting them.
Beliefs of Ferdinand de Saussure Language constructs meaning Language is not neutral Meaning is not inherently within the object, nor within the word, but in the relationship (which is ascribed in our heads) between the two
Semiotics Study of signs and the signification of language Key terms: langue, parole, signs, signifier, signified, binary opposition, structuralism
Langue & Parole Langue: The abstract rules of language: grammar, words, sentences, construction Saussure believed that this could be studied scientifically Parole: Everything that you can say (or write) which Saussure believed you can disregard as words without meaning
Signs Made up of the signifier (form of the sign: actual word, image) + the signified (mental idea/concept which is associated with the signifier) Allow us to make sense of the world, to "understand" the language of cultural texts
Binary Opposition Meaning which is understood through differentiation Example: yes can only be understood in relation to no; light can only be understood in relation to dark
Structuralism The world is defined by the constructed structures; individuals participate in this but cannot change the structure One form of structure is discourse
Denotation & Connotation (Barthes) Roland Barthes (1915-1980) studied semiotics in popular culture. Denotation: first level significance; descriptive and easily understood Connotation: second level significance; associating signs with other cultural codes of meaning ("Myth")
Barthe's theory of Myth & Language Denotation (language): signifier1 + signified1 = sign1 (meaning) Sign 1 becomes the signifier in connotation Connotation (myth): signifier2 (sign1) + signified 2 (concept) = sign 2 (2nd level meaning)
Polysemic Signs Signs with no fixed meaning Can carry multiple meanings, which can change (fluid) Relies on the interpretation of the receiver of the sign Example: reader of a text may fix his own temporary meaning Can depend on age, gender, class, nationality...
Post-Structuralism Builds on (but is critical of) structuralism The idea that meaning is contextual, and therefore not inherent or rigid Introduces a difference between encoding and decoding
Encoding & Decoding Encoding: The meaning which the creator of the cultural text intends to be understood Decoding: The meaning which is understood by the interpreter of the cultural text Sometimes the same, but not always!
Jacques Derrida 1930-2004 Believed there is nothing in this world except signs; interpretations lead to interpretations lead to interpretations Seemingly "natural" concepts are actually just reproductions of what has already existed (no such thing as originality; everything is constructed) Key terms: logocentrism, phonocentrism, différance, deconstruction, under erasure
Logocentrism Core element of Western philosophy The concept that universal truths exist outside our representation (such as beauty, truth, love)
Phonocentrism Priority given to sound/speech over writing, as though sound and speech is somehow closer t reality than texts Derrida disagrees with this: by using language we lose neutrality when describing "realities" such as truth
Différance Half-way between differ and defer Meaning is based both on differentiating, but also on deferring meaning to another interpretation Example: The meaning of "blue" is differentiated by comparing it to red, but also deferred to alternate understandings of the meaning "blue"
Deconstruction Undoing a cultural text in order to "seek out, display the assumptions of a text" Picking carefully through a cultural text in order to detect biases Deconstruction is a paradox because in order to describe the process you must use language (and therefore lose neutrality)
Under Erasure A theory that if you remove (erase) any ambiguous signs (words) from a cultural text, one can somehow find the true meaning of the text Not a very helpful practice
Michel Foucault 1926-1984 Studied the relation between social power and knowledge Key Terms: discourse, power/knowledge, disciplinary technologies, docile bodies
Discourse "A group of statements which provide a language for talking about, a way of representing the knowledge about a particular topic at a particular historical moment" -Stuart Hall Easiest to understand in practice; examples of Western modern medicine discourse (the concept of "madness" within discourse) Production of knowledge through use of language
Regimes of Truth Not universal truths, but are geographically, temporally, culturally, or historically restricted Does not mean that there is no such thing as external truths; just that our concept of truth is constructed by discourse
Knowledge and Power Discourse creates knowledge (based on regimes of truth) and determines the way we speak on any given topic Regulates behaviour, conduct, our way of speaking This knowledge gives one power to influence the discourse using disciplinary mechanisms and technologies
Technologies of the Self Means by which an individual constructs themselves as subjects within discourse Example: the statement "I am a woman" is discursive. Discourses can change if there becomes a need for an identifying word other than "man" or "woman"
Disciplinary Technologies Institutions where discourse is reproduced, propogated, and conveyed. Places where people become defined, and therefore categorized within discourse. Examples: schools, hospitals, prisons, court rooms
Anthropological Discourse Social Darwinism and the Theory of Evolution created a new discourse; under this discourse people felt the need to categorize and rank humans
Power and Visibility (Panopticon) Panopticon was a prison design idea which involved correction of the inmates through not knowing whether they were being watched or not. The guards could see them, but they couldn't see the guards, so they always needed to behave well. Being seen is discursive, and linked to our moral decisions
Manipulative Model (Construction) Assumes that there is a ruling class and an oppressed class, and that is what the media is based on Example: Propaganda and censorship Criticized because it assumes that the audience is much more passive than they generally are; audiences are critical, skeptical, perceptive and they create their own meanings
Pluralist Model (media construction) Assumption of many different ideologies which coexist; interpretation of media is assumed to vary from person to person Criticized because the supposition of equality, "free journalism", that everyone has equal access to the media, is unrealistic
Hegemonic Model (media construction) Somewhere between manipulative and pluralist; hegemonic model says that there are multiple ideologies, but one dominant one (by consent)
Ien Ang Studied soap operas and (mainly) the reception of "low culture" Decided there were 4 main ways of receiving soap operas: guilty pleasure, ironically, "aware" (if you know the problems, then it is okay) or defensively (I have the right to watch whatever I want)
Soap Opera Feminism Soap operas (and many other forms of media) are directed towards women; does this really mean that women need their own genres of popular culture? Does it mean that all popular culture that isn't chic-lit, chick flicks or fem magazines are directed towards men? Media reproduces gender roles and stereotypes Criticism: This assumes that women are being brainwashed by these "feminine" cultural texts
Active Audience Paradigm The audience does not passively accept encoded meanings, but interprets them (decodes them) individually. Texts are polysemic (many meanings) and encoding does not always ensure corresponding decoding
Youth Cultures Subcultures often start as youth cultures. This is thought to be because youth are being educated about the world, and also at a time when they feel the need to rebel against their families Concerning cultural markers of development, not biological ones
Youth as a Moratorium The time between childhood and adulthood; time of education of the way of the world before adopting a social part in that world. Suspension of responsibility
Moral Panic about Youth Youth detach selves from parents and go through a period of rebellion, which parents often find worrying/concerning. These trends are reproduced in movies; falling in love, problems with authority, juvenile delinquency
Teddy Boys 50's London, working class subculture Sometimes wealthy teenage boys trying to "fit in" Ironically fancy style (Edwardian suits, a bit wrong) Rock n' Roll, freedom of adolescence
Skinheads 60's London working class subculture Reappropriate aspects of many subcultures (mods, raggae) Army boots, straight leg jeans, suspenders, shaved head Later development: neo-Nazi ideology
Bricolage Stuart Hall Remaking elements/objects and giving them new meaning within a subculture (DIY projects) Example: wearing a fancy suit does not make you a Teddy Boy, but if you are a Teddy Boy and you wear a fancy suit it sends a certain message
Double Articulation of Youth As parents rebel against the dominant culture, their children inherit these rebellious tendencies. The reason it is double for the youth is because at the same time, youth strive to rebel against their parents as well. This means that youth are not only rebelling against the dominant culture (like their parents do), but also against their parents.
Female Subcultures Subcultures have often been dominated by white males. Female subcultures are different because they are not so out-in-the-open. Sometimes described as "bedroom cultures", girls are often associated with fan culture. Hanging posters up on their walls, chatting on the phone to their friends, listening to records. Examples: Teeny-Boppers, Beatlemania
Homosexual Subcultures In the past this was a very understated subculture, mainly because it was not acceptable to admit to homosexuality. As a result, a covert homosexual subculture emerged which involved subtle appropriation of words or styles in order to display the subculture. Now, of course it is much different and homosexual subcultures can sometimes be included in spectacular subcultures. One of the few subcultures which is not youth based.
Internet Subcultures The internet changed the face of subcultures; no longer about style, but about interests and opinions. Anonymity of the internet allows more freedom to be who you are and say what you want.
Subjectivity and Identity Subjectivity: being a person and how you are constructed, and how you experience yourself within discursive construction Identity: is the way you think you are and the way others see you (self-identity and social identity)
Understanding the Self A modern Western assumption that somehow we can understand our "true selves" or our "inner selves", and that it is our responsibility to give ourselves time to discover this about ourselves (long trips, long walks, "me-time") This is thought to allow us to express our true identity
Essentialism The belief that for a particular entity there are a set of attributes which can be detected, and which define that entity.
Anti-Essentialism The concept that there is nothing but construction; only such things as temporary attributes exist within the given context
Stuart Hall's 3 Conceptions of Identity (just name the 3) 1. Enlightenment Subject 2. Sociological Subject 3. Post-Modern Subject
Enlightenment Subject (Hall) 17th-18th century Europe Focus on reason and rationality, which requires one to be responsible for his own actions. Think of these philosophers: Descartes: I think therefore I am John Locke: if you replace all the planks on a ship one by one, is it still the same ship?
Cartesian Dualism Concept from Descartes (1596-1650) Separation of mind and body; senses might be deceptive, but thinking must exist. ("I think therefore I am") His theory: If there is a God, he must be good. If he is good, then he must not be deceptive. If he is not deceptive, then you can rely on thought.
Sociological Subject (Hall) Related to the notion of there being an "inner self", but that it is entirely shaped by interaction (with family members, peers, colleagues, friends) Important philosophers: Freud, Lacan, Foucault
Post-Modern Subject (Hall) Concept of the decentred subject. No one inner core, but a fragmented and shifting identity, which can change in different situations. Different times of life = different selves; we change over time
Stuart Hall's 5 Ruptures in the Ideology of Self 1. Marxism: social interaction but dependent on time/place 2. Psychoanalysis: unconscious self (id, ego, superego) is outside rationality 3. Feminism: a sexual identification which is embedded in societal discourse 4. Centrality of Language: language creates the self within discourse 5. Work of Foucault: subjectivity is regulated/produced by discourse
Freud's Identification Relationships which define identity and shape the subject Object cathexis (desire to have the other) Identification (desire to be the other; project what you think there identity is)
Mirror Phase (Lacan) Infants can self-identify by imagining their position by their own mirror image. They identify with the image of themselves, not just think it is another object (Narcissistic identification) *This has since been refuted
Decentering (Feminism) Inner self identity is influenced by the outer world (construction, discourse), and therefore identification with self is a relation between "inner" and "outer" selves. "Personal is political" This is often associated with male/female identifications; the concept of identifying with a certain gender, and how one exists within society as such.
Myth of the Interior Foucault's idea that we cannot, in fact, form our own identity; all we can do is produce a subject within discourse. Disciplinary technologies produce docile bodies which can be subjugated, transformed and improved
Anti-Essentialist Identity Cultural identity is not fixed, but is constantly in a state of becoming.
Post-Humanism Recent philosophy concerning the essential identity of humans. What makes a human a human in a world of genetic engineering, technoscience, cyborgs. Even animals have a different position in society than they used to.
Agency (and Problem of Agency) Agency: The ability to act consciously. The problem: if what Foucault says is correct, how can we have agency if we are completely governed by discourse? Can docile bodies have agency? Foucault says: it's okay, if we're aware than we can act.
Existentialism Jean-Paul Sartre The theory that everything is discourse and that there is no innate being; humans are free and that everything one does is a choice. There is no purpose to our existence except what we make for ourselves.
First-Wave Feminism A Western "Suffragette" movement in the late 19th-early 20th century. Focused mostly on women's right to vote; equal legal and political rights for women as well as men (voting, work, wages). Still grounded in an essential difference between men and women.
Second-Wave Feminism Began around the 60's and went until the 80's. Heavily influenced by the work of Simone de Beauvoir (whose Second Sex was well ahead of her time) This time, concerned with cultural inequalities as well as political. Sexual freedom (legalized abortion, "the pill"), women in the work place, the role of motherhood, the responsibility of "the home". Still believed in a fundamental difference between men and women.
Simone de Beauvoir and the Second Sex Written in 1949 by existentialist philosopher, Simone de Beauvoir. An early feminist who believed in the construction of gender roles. She believed that women have a choice to either change things or conform to what men expect of them. There is no essence to being a woman, but because women are free to choose, they are free to resist. Famous quote: "One is not born, but rather becomes a woman"
Third-Wave Feminism Started around the 90's and continues to te present. Criticized the essentialism of the second wave feminist movement. Post-structuralist view on gender and sex; as not being binary or universal. There is no one, complete definition of a woman. It changes and is completely culturally, temporally, geographically dependent. Therefore feminists can not make claims on behalf of "all women"
Feminism Many aspects, but essentially "asserts that sex is a fundamental and irreducible axis of social organization, which has subordinated women to men" (from the lecture)
Patriarchy Structural subordination of women to men; male-headed family, male authority in politics, male control of property, etc
Liberal and Socialist Feminism Differences are socio-economic and cultural constructs; need for equality and sameness between men and women in the economic sphere.
Difference Feminism In favour of creating powerful women by recognizing and celebrating the differences between men and women.
Black or Post-Colonial Feminism Traditional feminism is very focused on white, Western, privileged females. Race, ethnicity and nationality can play a big role in feminism and in experiences of being a women. Many women in post-colonized nations carry the double burden of being colonized and also subordinated to men.
Post-Structuralist Feminism Associated with 3rd-wave feminism. Sex and gender are complete constructions; representations of femininity or masculinity are the sites of political struggle over meaning
Postfeminism Striving to recognize how far women's rights have come since 1st wave feminism; especially in workplaces, in the law, in culture; women are no longer victims and yet act as though they are (which reinforces patriarchy and female "vulnerability")
Oedipus Complex Freud's Psychoanalysis about gender identification Centred around the myth of a boy who, growing up not knowing his parents, accidentally kills his estranged father and marries (unknowingly) his mother. Freud uses this to explain gender; a young boy wants to possess his mother, and therefore feels jealous of his father. He cannot do anything to his father, because he fears being punished (castration anxiety) As he gets older, he begins to identify with his father, which makes him want to be his father. This is how young boys develop their understanding of morals.
Electra Complex Developed in response to the Oedipus complex by Carl Jung, because the Oedipus complex only applies to boys. The Electra complex is based on the myth of Electra; a young girl who killed her mother in order to avenge her father. This identification with the father, and love for him, leads a young girl to a heterosexual identity.
Phallocentrism The idea that the penis is an essential part of identification with gender. However, there is a discrepancy in the discourse between men and women. On the one hand, men are described as having a phallus (positive association), whereas women are described as lacking it (negative association).
Judith Butler: Between Freud and Foucault Discourse operates as a normative regulatory power, which is somehow unconscious.
Performativity of Sex Judith Butler Discursive practices which enacts or pronounces what it names Examples: "I pronounce you man and wife" or "I swear..."; it is an act, not just words. Sex is performative because it is cited, over and over, reiterating hegemonic norms: it is therefore a self-enforcing process
Imaginary Nationality Because "nationality" has no concrete requirements; based on a "know it when you see it" mentality. Still, there is a sense of belonging; and a sense of fraternity with people (of the same nationality) who you have never met. This imagined nationality breeds nationalism; this is an important constructed concept, and seems to thrive in "tough times"
Horizontal Relations In feudal times, people felt connection in relation to their connection to the same ruler. Now, people feel connected to (sometimes responsible for) each other horizontally (on the same level). A product of solidarity, democracy
Problematization of Race/Ethnicity With the development of nation-states, came also the development of ethnic minorities. As people drew boundaries between who had ____ nationality and who didn't, people began to feel the need to create requirements. The minorities who did not fit the requirements were subjected to discrimination and hatred.
Print-Nationalism The promotion of nationalism by way of media. With the rise of readily available newspapers, novels and other forms of information, a feeling of connection with the whole country could be established. This required the standardization of language which assimilated many languages, and alienated others (creation of linguistic communities)
Global Community This has recently become common; the idea that you can have dual-nationality. This formed new identities and allowed for a fluidity of national identification. For example: Irish-Americans may identify themselves differently than African-Americans
Travelling Cultures (Clifford) James Clifford wrote about "travelling cultures", emphasizing how now national identities were based on "routes, not roots" Immigration no longer means giving up national identity; just introducing it (sometimes reappropriating it) to a new geographical location. Traditions, customs, experiences, contacts can now be maintained globally
Diaspora Rising from the global communities, comes a transnational network without any single territory. Focuses less on territory and more on cultural, social and historical connections. The role of history plays a big part in diasporic communities. Example: Jewish people live all over the world, yet can maintain a connection through habits, traditions, customs and the remembrance of past struggles
Orientalism Edward Said 1979 Construction of a binary us/them opposition through discourse, between the Western world and the East. Reproduced constantly: sometimes romanticized, sometimes demonized. Definition through contrast (how the West imagined the East also constructed how the West imagines itself)
Fan Culture Unique because not only is consumer-based, but also producing. The creation of fan clubs, websites, meetings, societies as well as creative production such as fan fiction creates a "prosumer" culture. This is an example of Participatory Culture
Fan Fiction A fan-written version which is based on the "canonical version" (original text), but which varies in different ways. Alternate universe fiction: what if Harry Potter was a girl Missing-scenes fiction: from within the original text, but "filling in the blanks" (what was happening in the Shire while Frodo was off destroying the ring) Prequels or Sequel fiction: takes place before or after the original series (Han Solo and Princess Leia living happily ever after.. or something)
Web 2.0 The term given to the internet when it became possible not only to download from the internet, but also to upload to it. This lead to a rise in user-generated content (examples: YouTube, Wikipedia)
Citizen Journalism Amateur writers now can have their voice heard by way of blogs, social networks, etc. This citizen journalism refers to those reporting events without any training or any official capacity. They have become very popular because they seem to give a "first-hand" account; supposedly not censored by any media company. Some believe this to be democratizing (cyberutopianism)
Media Convergence When different forms of media get folded together. There are 3 types Technological Convergence: media is distributed on many different platforms (phone, tablet, TV, radio, computer) Industry Convergence: large companies gain access to media and no long sell one product but many (comic to a movie to a soundtrack, game, TV series) Media Convergence: media becomes "multi-tasking"; we can do everything simultaneously; watch TV, research for a project, chat on Facebook and Skype
Transmedia Storytelling Stories which are told by different forms of media (can blur/change the main story) Example: Lego Harry Potter Movie; based on a toy, based on a game, based on a movie, based on a book...
Top-Down Convergence Culture When companies or institutions integrate in order to find "synergy", they develop content which we receive in many different ways
Bottom-Up Convergence Culture Happens when our own contributions (often on Web 2.0) and reappropriations become cultural texts.
Internet as a Creative Commons A movement to reconsider copyright laws altogether in this new age of fan fiction and user-generated content. Copyright laws should allow for further creativity and the reappropriation of existing texts
Information Economy (Castells) Manuel Castells He believes that the dominant class is no longer the owners, but the managers. He also says that material production has been replaced by information processing. Customization is available again (Post-Fordism) Globalization of the economy, which is driven forward by technological advancement
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