Culture and Values Terms

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High and Popular Culture

High culture is a term referring to the "best of breed" (from some elitist viewpoints) cultural products. What falls in this category is defined by the most powerful sections of society, i.e. its social, political, economic and intellectual elite. The opposite of high cultural art forms, such as the opera, historic art, classical music, traditional theatre or literature; popular culture includes many forms of cultural communication including newspapers, television, advertising, comics, pop music, radio, cheap novels, movies, jazz, etc. In the beginning of the 20th Century, "high art" was the realm of the wealthy and educated classes while popular culture or "low art" was considered commercial entertainment for the lower classes. In the 1950s and 60s the gap between high and low art closed with the rise of Pop Art.

Post colonialism

This term describes the situation in existence since a majority of countries have achieved their political independence from Britain and other Western European powers such as Spain, France, Portugal, Holland, Belgium and Germany. Post colonialism describes the cultural, intellectual, political, and literary movement of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries characterized by the representation and analysis of the historical experiences of the victims, individuals and nations, of colonial power. A recent site of postcolonial change in the English-speaking world is the formal overthrowing of the "apartheid" system in South Africa. Post colonialism has transformed our sense of what we are about; and such impressive changes will naturally have important implications on English studies.


Similar to Post colonialism, multiculturalism has transformed our sense of what society and culture is about. Multiculturalism describes the status of several different ethnic, racial, religious or cultural groups co-existing in harmony in the same society. The existence of multiculturalism in the Western World today has expanded the English literary world, displacing the narrow notions of literature and increasing recognition of non-Western-European genres of writing, oral performance and cultural production for example legends, histories, laws, fables, anecdotes, oratory, song, chant, and song and dance. Culture itself is a broad term, therefore there are various views on what multicultural can mean. It can describe the existence of a multiracial society, in which case emphasis is placed on people's physical attributes i.e. Hair texture and skin colour. It can also describe the existence of multiethnic society, where the emphasis is placed more on people's social organisation or culture rather than physical make-up. Cultural differences of all kinds that exist in society can also describe the term multiculturalism, including differences of class, rank, caste, sexuality, gender, occupation, region, age etc.
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