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18. Mass Culture

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Chapter Summary

Mass culture generally suggests social uniformity and standardization. Consumer culture worked through a dynamic between mass and luxury. The secret was the use of display, industrial design and advertising to suggest that mass produced goods attained the qualities of refined and well-crafted luxuries. Mass culture ceases to be seen as a necessary or desirable means of cultural integration. Instead, the turnover of fashions and news events generates a more volatile and unstable sets of images and discourses. For the generation of Western intellectuals and academics writing in the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries, one of the main concerns was the impact of modernity on social and cultural life. A key aspect of the emergence of a more positive attitude towards mass culture was the re-evaluation of the role of intellectuals as guardians of high culture.

Keywords: consumer culture; mass culture; mass society; social uniformity



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