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Chapter 4.1: Where do folk/popular cultures originate?


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Title: Chapter 4.1: Where do folk/popular cultures originate?

Chapter 4.1 Where do folk/popular cultures
Origin of Folk and Pop Culture
  • Folk customs often come from anonymous hearths at
    unknown times while pop culture typically comes
    from more developed countries (pop music, pizza)
  • Origin of Folk Music
  • According to Chinese legend, music was invented
    in 2697 BC
  • In reality, folk songs are usually created
    anonymously and are transmitted orally
  • Can change from generation to generation, usually
    shaped by daily events
  • Often tell stories about farming, life-cycle
    events (birth, death, marriage), or mysterious
    events such as storms or earthquakes
  • Can occur independently in multiple hearths
    example country music

Origin of Country Music
Fig. 4-1 U.S. country music has four main
hearths, or regions of origin southern
Appalachia, central Tennessee and Kentucky, the
Ozark-Ouachita uplands, and north-central Texas.
  • Origin of Pop Music
  • Written by specific people with the intent of
    selling to a large number of people
  • Originated around 1900 in New York, neighborhood
    becomes known as Tin Pan Alley
  • During WWII the Armed Forces Radio Network
    broadcasts music worldwide
  • Hip hop originated in the 1970s in the South
    Bronx, does not spread until the late 1980s

A Mental Map of Hip Hop
Fig. 4-3 This mental map places major hip hop
performers near other similar performers and in
the portion of the country where they performed.
Diffusion of Folk and Pop Culture
  • The spread of pop culture typically follows a
    pattern of hierarchical diffusion
  • Nodes in the US include Hollywood (film), Madison
    Ave (advertising)
  • Pop culture spreads rapidly through modern
    communication and transportation
  • Folk culture is spread much more slowly and on a
    smaller scale
  • Usually through migration rather than
    electronically (relocation diffusion)

  • The Amish Relocation Diffusion of Folk Culture
  • The Amish have distinctive clothing, farming,
    religious practices, and other customs
  • They shun mechanical and electrical power
  • Diffused by moving to Pennsylvania and then Ohio,
    Indiana, Iowa
  • Now moving to Kentucky for farmland

Amish Settlements in the U.S.
Fig. 4-4 Amish settlements are distributed
through the northeast U.S.
  • Sports Hierarchical Diffusion of Pop Culture
  • Soccer originated in England during the early
  • Increased leisure time in the 1800s allowed it
    to spread across England and later to colonies
  • Sports have become a huge part of popular culture

Chapter 4.2 Why is Folk Culture Clustered?
Isolation Promotes Cultural Diversity
  • A groups unique folk customs develop through
    centuries of relative isolation from customs of
    other cultural groups.
  • Folk customs observed at a point in time vary
    widely from one place to another, even in nearby
  • Himalayan Art
  • Four cultural groups near each other but isolated
    (Buddhists, Islam, Hindu, Animists)
  • In spite of proximity, each has different
    religions and very different depictions of things
    such as climate, landforms and vegetation

Himalayan Folk Cultural Regions
Fig. 4-5 Cultural geographers have identified
four distinct culture regions based on
predominant religions in the Himalaya Mountains.
Influence of the Physical Environment
  • People respond to and adapt to the physical
    environment, but it is only one of several
    influences over social customs
  • Customs such as food, clothing and shelter are
    clearly influenced by climate
  • Folk societies are very responsive to the
    environment due to relatively low technology and
    prevalence of an agricultural economy
  • Food and shelter illustrate the influence of
    cultural values and the environment on the unique
    development of folk culture

  • Food preferences
  • People adapt their food preferences to conditions
    the environment
  • Climate, rainfall, lack of fuel (uncooked
  • Transylvania- Jews, Armenians, Hungarians all
    have their own soup preferences in spite of
    modern pop culture erases folk differences

  • Food Attractions and Taboos
  • Some foods are eaten because their natural
    properties are believed to increase strength,
    fierceness, intellect or even lovemaking ability
    (jaguars, bulls, mandrake)
  • Some people refuse to eat certain plants or
    animals that are thought to have negative
    properties. These restrictions imposed by social
    customs are known as taboos
  • Europeans once resisted the potato, pregnant
    women in Chad wont eat chicken, the Bible
    restricts fish lacking fins, Muslims-pork,
  • Even in pop-culture countries there are taboos
    (US Insects)

Hog Production and Food Cultures
Fig. 4-6 Annual hog production is influenced by
religious taboos against pork consumption in
Islam and other religions. The highest production
is in China, which is largely Buddhist.
  • Folk Housing
  • Housing is a product of cultural tradition and
    natural conditions
  • Choice of building materials is largely
    influenced by the environment
  • Two most common building materials in world wood
    and brick
  • The form and orientation of the house depends on
    culture (i.e. Madagascar)
  • Climate is also a big influence on housing design

Chapter 4.3 Why is Pop Culture Widely
Diffusion of Popular Housing, Clothing, and Food
  • There are some regional differences, but in
    modern MDCs there are fewer and fewer
  • Popular Housing Styles
  • US houses built since 1940 illustrate how popular
    customs vary over time rather than place
  • 1940 Minimal Traditional homes were one story
    with few decorative details. Small, modest homes
    designed for returning WWII vets

  • 1950s-60s Ranch Style homes are one story and
    spread over a large lot, reflect urban sprawl
  • 1950s-70s Split Level homes add the addition
    of the Family Room for TV watching
  • 1960s-Today Replaces the large family room
    into separate family rooms and living rooms

  • Rapid Diffusion of Clothing Styles
  • Clothing habits show how popular culture is
    distributed with little regard for physical
  • Clothing depends more on availability of income
    and job characteristics
  • In North America and W. Europe people dress for
    their professions (White collar v. Blue collar)
  • Womens fashion changes yearly, it takes income
    to keep up
  • Communication has also permitted quick diffusion
    of clothing (runways of Europe to America)
  • Improved travel has exposed the world to more
    folk clothes, and many groups continue to dress
    this way to attract tourism

  • Jeans
  • The most visible symbol of Western pop culture
  • Although globalized, there are some local
    variations (button fly vs. zipper)
  • Jeans were an obsession and status symbol in
    communist Soviet Union

  • Popular Food Customs
  • Also depends on the availability of wealth
  • Consumption of alcoholic beverages and snack
    foods are characteristics of pop food culture
  • There are regional preferences of alcohol and
    religion also influences choices
  • Research shows that choices are influenced more
    by income and national advertising
  • Environment can play a role in distribution of
    popular culture as well as folk
  • Wine production works best in temperate regions
    and on hillsides as well as near a lake or river

Wine Production per Year
Fig. 4-13 The distribution of wine production
shows the joint impact of the physical
environment and social customs.
Alcohol Preferences in the U.S.
Fig. 4-12 Per capita consumption of rum (top)
and Canadian whiskey (bottom) show different
distributions and histories of diffusion.
Role of Television in Diffusing Popular Culture
  • A significant popular custom for two reasons
  • Most popular leisure activity in more developed
    countries throughout the world
  • Most important mechanism for the diffusion of
    popular culture (such as pro sports)
  • Diffusion of Television
  • First viewed in the US in 1930s but slowed by
  • By 1959 the number grows to 50 million homes with
  • Spread around the world during the 60s

  • Today the level of TV services falls into four
  • Nearly every home owns a TV (US, Japan)
  • Ownership is common but not universal (Latin
    America, Romania)
  • TV exists but is not widely diffused due to cost
    (some Asian, African)
  • Very few to none (30 countries in Asia, Africa)
  • During the rule of the Taliban, watching TV was
    punishable with jail time

Diffusion of TV, 19541999
Fig. 4-14 Television has diffused widely since
the 1950s, but some areas still have low numbers
of TVs per population.
  • Government Control of TV
  • In the US most TV stations are owned by private
    corporations which receive licenses from the
  • In most of the world TV stations are controlled
    by the government to limit speech against them
  • With the spread of satellite technology
    governments are not able to control TV as much
  • As satellite dishes get smaller they are even
    easier to hide from the government

Chapter 4.4 Problems with Globalization of Pop
  • International diffusion of popular culture has
    created two problems
  • It threatens the survival of traditional folk
    culture in many countries
  • It is less responsive to the diversity of local
    environments and create adverse environmental

Threat to Folk Culture
  • Rising income can fuel demand for possessions
    typical of pop culture
  • When people turn from folk to pop culture they
    often abandon their societys traditional values

  • Loss of values
  • One example of this struggle is clothing
  • Developing countries are often replacing
    traditional clothes with more western styles
  • The Western business suit has been adopted by
    businessmen and government officials around the
  • In the middle east there is a struggle between
    those who are adopting Western clothes and those
    who wish to retain traditional styles of dress
    (men and women)

  • Change in Traditional Role of Women
  • Diffusion of pop culture threatens the
    subservience of women to men that is in most folk
  • Limited to housework- cooking, cleaning, child
  • The Taliban violently opposed changes in womens
    role, punishable by death

  • Low levels of education and high rates of
    violence have held women back in some of these
  • In MDCs women have found much more equality
  • Increased interaction between LDCs and MDCs has
    led to increases in prostitution in LDCs which
    highly encourage it to bring in money

  • Threat of Foreign Media Imperialism
  • Leaders of some LDCs view the popular media as a
    threat to their independence (news and TV)
  • The US, Japan and Britain dominate the television
    industry in LDCs
  • American beliefs such as social mobility, rights
    for women and stylized violence may conflict with
    or drive out traditional values
  • LDCs believe that western control of news media
    leads to a western slant on news

Environmental Impact of Pop Culture
  • Popular culture is less likely than folk culture
    to be distributed with consideration of physical
  • Modifying nature
  • Popular culture is often imposed on the
    environment, rather than springing from it
  • For many popular customs, the environment is
    something that must be modified to enhance
    leisure activities or promote sales of products

  • Diffusion of golf
  • Golf has become a very popular sport across
  • They are designed partially in response to local
    conditions (grass, existing trees)
  • But often the environment must be remade
    dramatically to build the courses (raising or
    lowing hills, digging ponds, cutting grass)

Golf Courses in Metropolitan Areas
Fig. 4-16 The 50 best-served and worst-served
metropolitan areas in terms of golf holes per
capita, and areas that are above and below
  • Uniform Landscapes
  • Distribution of pop culture has led to much more
    uniform landscapes
  • Fast food restaurants
  • Usually organized as franchises, sell logo and
    menu to local business people
  • Cheap, quick food as well as a social outlet for
    teenagers are some of the appeals
  • Have spread all over the world and are readily
    identifiable by their signs and architecture
  • Gas stations, supermarkets, and motels are also
    similar examples

  • Global Diffusion of Uniform Landscapes
  • Fast food has spread globally, originally to
    attract American business people but also to
    satisfy local curiosity of locals who have seen
    it on TV
  • Not confined to US products, Japanese cars and
    electronics have spread the same way

  • Negative Environmental Impact
  • Diffusion of pop culture can impact environmental
    quality in two ways depletion of natural
    resources and pollution
  • Demand for natural resources
  • Pop customs often require minerals for production
    of goods, petroleum for energy, even animals for
    certain fashions
  • Increased demand for products can strain the
    capacity of the environment (oil, wood, etc.)
  • Pollution
  • Popular culture generates a great deal of
    pollution (solid, liquid, and gas)
  • Often products are discarded rather than re-used
    or recycled (throw away society)
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