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Comment: (Popular) Culture as Product – Contingencies of Cultural Change

  • The supposedly commercial products of the culture industry are increasingly facing sales difficulties because growing numbers of self-assertive consumers are downloading products at will, thus no longer following the given rules of the market. Not only multinational record companies, but also representatives of ‘high’ culture are adamant in their criticism of the current ‘culture for free’ tendency. The latter can hardly be characterized as profit-oriented – nor would they describe themselves that way – but they contend that bootleg copies are a threat to their livelihood, and that the culture of piracy paves the way for harebrained mass products. The discussion encompasses copyright laws and the ways consumers are appropriating cultural products as well as the question whether or not these tendencies will fundamentally change the production of culture. Such debates are charged with cultural criticism, but in essence of economic nature. In addition, the cultural sector is faced with the accusation of waning societal relevance. In the arts and features sections of newspapers and magazines, journalists and essayists bemoan that pop culture is no longer ‘the voice and mirror of political and social change, like twenty or thirty years ago’. Although popular culture may have evolved from its original return and distribution strategies as well as its constitutive (at least for some) connection to youth and protest movements, a medially conveyed, market-driven culture that is accessible to a wide audience remains a characteristic feature of modern societies and their self-perceptions.

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Author:Stefanie Middendorf
Parent Title (English):Zeithistorische Forschungen – Studies in Contemporary History
Publisher:ZZF – Centre for Contemporary History: Zeithistorische Forschungen
Place of publication:Potsdam
Document Type:Journal Article
Date of Publication (online):2013/04/19
Date of first Publication:2013/04/19
Release Date:2019/08/19
First Page:101
Last Page:106
ZZF Topic-Classification:Alltag
Materielle Kultur
ZZF Regional-Classification:ohne regionalen Schwerpunkt
ZZF Chronological-Classification:1945-
Web-Publications:Zeithistorische Forschungen
Studies in Contemporary History: Articles:1 / 2013 Offenes Heft
Licence (German):License LogoZZF - Clio Lizenz