Wednesday, September 9, 2009

High vs. Low cultures.

The topic of high vs. low cultures is not a new concept to me. Last semester, I've studied this topic in my Human Culture and Communication class.
This specific issue can be also renamed as pop culture vs. high culture. It aims at showing the differences within our society, and how media not only represents it, but even more specifically... addresses it.
The difference between the high and low cultures is simple: while the first is aimed at being mostly accessible and understood by a specific, small, and usually wealthy community of people, the latter is designed to aim and be accessible to the masses.
A very interesting example of this has appeared in my life recently. Although I've been exposed to it earlier, I only came to realize it not too long ago.
The example has to do with the magazines that advertise specific merchandise, i.e. home appliances and decorations. My boss, who happens to be a quite regular and nice woman, receives such magazines on a daily basis. Oftentimes, she leaves them around the office, and I happen to glance through them. Equally, I also receive certain magazines of similar sort. But only recently I realized that the ones that I am exposed to, totally differ from the ones that my boss receives. While the magazines that come to my house contain merchandise available to the masses- meaning that the cost of it is rational, and the designs themselves are somewhat similar to something that already existed before- the merchandise in the magazines that my boss receives is extremely different. Her magazines contain merchandise that is not only super-expensive and only affordable by those who really have the money to spend (read as "waste") on these necessities (read as "unnecessary junk"), but also merchandise that is original, created by a well-known designer, and definitely one of a kind. Sadly, no matter how much I wish I could have these things, it is still probably going to take a while before I could afford them with as equal ease as my boss buys them.
So although I was fully aware of the economical differences between my boss and I, only recently have I actually understood that even though I might be more educated than her, her superior economic status gives her more opportunities than I have at the moment. And sadly enough, this situation reflects the differences between the high and low cultures described in the Gans reading.
At the same time, it also makes me think about these divisions and differences that our society is build upon. Although we all live in the same city, belong to the same culture and have equal opportunities, some people elevate to these higher levels that put them on a different shelf, thus creating a subculture within the culture we share.

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