Why do people need mass culture?

(Opinion article)

In our life, we are constantly faced with mass culture. It is an integral part of our existence because we are the bearers of this culture. Around this phenomenon that seems to be usual for us, there are many discussions. What is the mass culture? When did it appear? What influence does the mass culture have on people’s consciousness: positive or negative? And the main question is: why do people need it?

Mass culture is a culture, popular among the general public in a particular society and is the most commercially successful, with elements everywhere: in cooking, clothes, consumption, media, in entertainment (for example, in sports and literature) – in contrast to “elitist culture.”

Mass culture is the opposite of the elitist and is seen as a contrast to past phenomena, cultural elements. And what is an elite culture? This is the “for the elect” culture, which is oriented toward the elite as the best part of society. It has a more complex structure, difficult to perceive and puts certain conditions for the consumer, for example, a high level of education. Mass culture is, on the contrary, considered to be public, understandable to ordinary people, simplified. Another important aspect is its commercialization.

The question arises: is mass culture for humankind a fall into the abyss or a new stage in development? There are many approaches, attitudes to this issue because the topic of research is to some extent subjective and relies on experience, world perception, the definition of culture as a term. For some mass culture is a new type of culture, for others – degradation, vulgarization, the death of an elite culture. As it was said by V. Westwood, “Popular culture is a contradiction in terms. If it`s popular, it is not culture.”

In my opinion, what is shared by the masses is not always bad. Of course, mass culture has its own peculiarities. It often uses stamps and stereotypes. Some products do only to earn more on human feelings and well-known images. The commodity and entertainment orientation of mass culture can become a powerful means of influencing people’s minds due to the emotion of satisfaction. Its purpose is to stimulate consumer consciousness and certain manipulation of it. But on the other hand, mass culture has many advantages and also fully corresponds to its time. It is a “child” of democracy so the authors can create the product they want while having material support. The most important function of mass culture is that it is mobile and meets the urgent needs of people.

Despite the fact that mass culture is gaining momentum, elite culture continues to evolve, but in close interaction with the masses. Now that the processes of globalization erase borders, it is very difficult to understand the boundaries. That is why it is erroneously at the present stage of the development of society to divide these two concepts and to oppose them to each other.

Consequently, for every person, the concept of culture may be different. This is a subjective outlook that each of us lives on. The elite and mass culture are equally important because the meet the needs of different people. But now the last “wins”. Until there are masses – mass culture will exist. All attempts to ban or overcome it will be fruitless, because it is a product of the present, and all we can do is wait until it is replaced by something else.

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