Folk and Popular Culture
Woman with Oxcart,
Myanmar
Insanely Rad Scot, with Kilt and
Three-Fin Thruster
The Forbidden City
Beijing, China
2004
Beijing, China
2004
Important Terms
• Custom – frequent repetition of an act until it
becomes characteristic of a group of people..
• Habit – repetitive act performed by an individual.
• Folk Culture – traditionally practiced by a small,
homogeneous, rural group living in relative isolation.
• Popular Culture – found in a large, heterogeneous
society that shares certain habits despite differences
in personal characteristics.
• Material Culture – the physical objects produced by
a culture in order to meet its material needs: food,
clothing, shelter, arts, and recreation. Carl Sauer
(Berkeley, 1930s – 1970s).
Folk Culture – rapidly changing and/or
disappearing throughout much of the
world.
Guatemalan Market
Portuguese Fishing Boat
Turkish Camel Market
Folk Culture
• Stable and close knit
• Usually a rural community
• Tradition controls
• Resistance to change
• Buildings erected without architect or
blueprint using locally available building
materials
• anonymous origins, diffuses slowly
through migration. Develops over time.
• Clustered distributions: isolation/lack of
interaction breed uniqueness and ties to
physical environment.
FOLK ARCHITECTURE
Effects on
Landscape: usually
of limited scale and
scope.
Agricultural: fields,
terraces, grain
storage
Dwellings: historically
created from local
materials: wood,
brick, stone, skins;
often uniquely and
traditionally arranged;
always functionally
tied to physical
environment.
FOLK ARCHITECTURE
FOLK FOOD
How did such
differences
develop?
U.S. House
Types by
Region
Fig. 4-1-1: Small towns in different
regions of the eastern
U.S. have different
combinations of five
main house types.
North American Folk Culture Regions
Folk Culture and the Land
Terraced Rice Fields, Thailand
Hogan, Monument Valley, AZ
Cohokia Mounds, Illinois
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.
Taboo – a restriction on behavior
imposed by social custom.
Food Taboos: Jews – can’t eat animals that
chew cud, that have cloven feet; can’t mix meat and milk,
or eat fish lacking fins or scales; Muslims – no pork;
Hindus – no cows (used for oxen during monsoon)
Washing Cow in Ganges
Popular Culture
Wide Distribution: differences from place to
place uncommon, more likely differences at
one place over time.
Housing: only small regional variations, more
generally there are trends over time
Food: franchises, cargo planes, superhighways
and freezer trucks have eliminated much local
variation. Limited variations in choice
regionally, esp. with alcohol and snacks.
Substantial variations by ethnicity.
Popular Culture
Clothing: Jeans and have become
valuable status symbols in many
regions including Asia and Russia
despite longstanding folk traditions.
Diffusion of TV, 1954–1999
Fig. 4-14: Television has diffused widely since the 1950s, but some areas still have
low numbers of TVs per population.
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.
Popular Culture
Effects on Landscape: breeds
homogenous, “placeless” (Relph, 1976),
landscape
 Complex network of roads and highways
 Commercial Structures tend towards ‘boxes’
 Dwellings may be aesthetically suggestive of
older folk traditions
• Planned and Gated Communities more and
more common
Disconnect with landscape: indoor
swimming pools, desert surfing.
Surfing in Tempe, Arizona
Are places still tied to local landscapes?
McDonald’s, Tokyo, Japan
Swimming Pool, West
Edmonton Mall, Canada
McDonald’s, Jerusalem
Problems with the Globalization of Culture
Often Destroys Folk
Culture – or
preserves traditions as
museum pieces or
tourism gimmicks.
 Mexican Mariachis;
Polynesian
Navigators; Cruise
Line Simulations
 Change in Traditional
Roles and Values;
Polynesian weight
problems
Satellite Television, Baja California
Problems with the Globalization of
Popular Culture
Western Media Imperialism?
 U.S., Britain, and Japan dominate
worldwide media.
 Glorified consumerism, violence, sexuality,
and militarism?
 U.S. (Networks and CNN) and British
(BBC) news media provide/control the
dissemination of information worldwide.
 These networks are unlikely to focus or
provide third world perspective on issues
important in the LDCs.
Environmental Problems with
Cultural Globalization
Accelerated Resource Use through Accelerated
Consumption
• Furs: minx, lynx, jaguar, kangaroo, whale, sea otters (18th
Century Russians) fed early fashion trends
• Inefficient over-consumption of Meats (10:1), Poultry
(3:1), even Fish (fed other fish and chicken) by meateating pop cultures
 Mineral Extraction for Machines, Plastics and Fuel
 New Housing and associated energy and water use.
 Golf courses use valuable water and destroy habitat
worldwide.
Pollution: waste from fuel generation and discarded
products, plastics, marketing and packaging
materials
“Progress?”
“They’re growing houses in the fields between the
towns.”
- John Gorka, Folk Singer
Beijing, China
Palm Springs, CA
Fiji
Marboloro Man in Egypt
Cultural Identity:
Race and Ethnicity
• Culture groups
– Few or many characteristics (language, religion,
race, food, etc.)
– Subculture
• Races
– Single species
– Secondary biological characteristics
• Ethnic groups
– Ethnocentrism
What race are
these guys?
Race
• Does not exist on a scientific level,
despite influence of the idea.
• Biological variation is real; the order we impose on this
variation by using the concept of race is not. Race is a
product of the human mind, not of nature.
•Based on a three category system developed in Europe in
the 18th century: caucasians, mongoloids, and blacks.
• The truth is that there is very little fundamental genetic
variety between humans and no way to tell where one
category stops and another begins. Race is literally skin
deep. There has not been enough time for much genetic
variation. We do not have distinct “races” or “subspecies.”
Race in the U.S.
•
Rosa Parks
Genetic mixing is so
common and complete that
most geographers dismiss
race as a category since it
can not be clearly tied to
place.
Japan Town, San Francisco, 1910
Dogs Used to Control Protestors, 1957
What is ethnicity? How is it
different than race?
1. identity with a group of people who
share the cultural traditions of a
particular homeland or hearth.
Thus: customs, cultural
characteristics, language, common
history, homeland, etc...
2. a socially created system of rules
about who belongs and who does
not belong to a particular group
based on actual or perceived
commonality of origin, race,
culture. This notion is clearly tied to
place.
Mongolian
Japanese
Kazakh
Turkish
Armenian
Puerto
Rican
Thai
Chinese
Nationalities and States
• Nationality - legally it is a term encompassing all the
citizens of a state, but most definitions refer now to
an identity with a group of people who generally
occupy a specific territory and bound together by a
sense of unity arising from shared ethnicity, customs,
belief, or legal status. Such unity rarely exists today
within a state.
• State - a politically organized territory that is
administered by a sovereign government
Nationalism
• Helps create
national unity
• Can be very
dangerous
• Can breed
intolerance of
difference and
Others
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Folk Versus Popular Culture