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Essay about Popular Culture Artifacts

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Bertolt Brecht asserted, “Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.” Art, encompassing all popular culture artifacts, both reflects the society that creates it and is itself an agent capable of changing social reality. Popular culture artifacts, like the Harry Potter series discussed in Nexon and Neumann’s work, Harry Potter and International Relations, exert agency, or causal power over the meaning and interpretation of cultural elements, by influencing the way ideas and values are constructed in everyday life. This paper will demonstrate that popular culture artifacts construct meanings and influence interpretations of reality.
In Harry Potter in International Relations, Nexon and Neumann argue that “popular culture is a crucial domain in which social and political life are represented” but that “such representations are not merely passive mirrors; they also play a crucial role in constituting the social and political world.” Durkheim explains that social life is created through human agency, consisting of entities that, as Durkheim asserts, exist “as realities external to the individual” and “as a product of human agency.” The production of these facts is not founded by individual opinion but through collective understanding, manifested in popular culture. Popular culture artifacts, then, assume the agency of the individual in predetermining the interpretation to be accepted.
Because popular culture is widely accessible, artifacts easily affect the way human beings perceive the world by shaping the collective view. The opinions and representations presented through popular culture artifacts are accepted by the collective and thus become real as they inform the basic assumptions of soci...


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...o shape interpretations through presentation of meaning and experience, it must be accepted that popular culture artifacts have agency ranging from the individual level to the level of international politics.









Works Cited

Durkheim, Emile. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. Print.

Goff, Patricia. Producing Harry Potter: Why the Medium is Still the Message. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2006. Print.

McLaughlin, Greg, and Stephen Baker. The Propaganda of Peace. Bristol, UK: Intellect Ltd., 2010. Print.

Neumann, Iver, and Daniel Nexon, ed. Harry Potter and International Relations. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman &Littlefield Publishers, Inc. , 2006. Print.

Swider, Ann. "Culture in Action: Symbols and Strategies." American Sociological Review. 51.2 (1986): Print.


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