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Social Issues in Popular Culture

PURPOSE: The purpose of this is to use content analysis to critically analyze how one social issue/problem is discussed and represented in popular culture through music lyrics.

BACKGROUND: There are many agents of popular culture though which the messages, themes and symbols of popular culture are produced and consumed. Media is a key agent of popular culture, and within it music is one mode for the production and consumption of popular culture . The music of the 1960's marked a key period of transition in the United States as themes of social problems and dissidence started to fill the radio waves. This assignment will allow you to explore one social issue or problem in music today.

- Discuss and compare culture, popular, high culture, elite culture, mass culture, low culture, subculture and counterculture.
- Understand and analyze why the popular becomes popular.
- Outline and apply key cultural theories and analytical dimensions for examining popular culture
- Explore different types of contemporary American culture.
- Examine the various elements of popular culture and how they inform or reflect our attitudes, behavior, and society.
- Discuss the relationship between popular culture and key stratifying factors such as gender, race, ethnicity, class, age, region and sexuality
- Locate and analyze culture within individual, social, historical, political, economic, and global contexts.
- Describe the cultural and social significance of popular culture in shaping the larger twentieth century American society.
- Construct and implement effective search strategies in finding resources relevant to popular culture.
- Demonstrate the ability to identify, locate, and retrieve information relevant to popular culture.

Solution Preview

Discuss and compare culture, popular, high culture, elite culture, mass culture, low culture, subculture, and counterculture.

First, when discussing each of the above, you want to find adequate working definitions for each of the above. It would be appropriate to use definitions that are particularly sociological in focus.

If you require quick references online, you can refer to the following links:

Scott, John, and Gordon Marshall. A Dictionary of Sociology, Third Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. Online Version, 2012.
You will be required to subscribe to this dictionary.

When comparing the discussions, you are particularly revealing the differences between each.

The following link will assist you in the comparison of the above definitions:

The following link will assist you in 'counterculture.' Once you read the previous document and the following definition, you will be able to discuss it further:

(Please copy and paste the link into a new browser window and press enter or return)

Although I have provided online resources, it is always preferable for you to cite scholarly resources for your papers.

Understand and analyze why the popular becomes popular.
You will want to consider the following when thinking about this answer:
-There is no one single answer for why something becomes popular.
-With respect to music, an observation is that singers and/or musicians just need to be "discovered" and it's all up hill from there.
-What is popular usually is through the efforts of talent and hard work. Sometimes having just plain luck is a factor.

Klosterman, C. (2004, ...

Solution Summary

This solution will assist the student in discussing and comparing specific aspects of popular culture. The student will also be guided in the process of understanding and analyzing popular culture through the application of cultural theories and its relationship with social stratifying factors.