Definition of Popular Culture


The definition of popular culture proves to be a difficult task forsociologists, and there are no definite theories that adequatelydescribe it without leaving gaps for further inquiry. The most commondefinitions reflect presents biases, and they are not, therefore,applicable to the trends in pre-industrial and pre-capitalisticsocieties.

The first difficult that emanates from trying to define popularculture is that most of the definitions take it to have startedduring the industrial revolution. However, scientists believe thatthe aspects of modern culture were also present before theindustrialization era. Therefore, defining it by basing its firsttrends during this period is problematic since it blocks away thetrends that existed before industrialization (Parker, 2011).

Another difficult relating t the definition of popular culturerevolves around its components. For example, scientists believe itconsists of films, records, clothes, television programs, and meansof transport among others. These were not common before the 1950s andtherefore, any trends before this period may as well be unpopular(Parker, 2011). However, Strinati notes that popular culture can bepresent in different societies at different times. Therefore, ablanket definition limits what the scholars rely on to define it(Parker, 2011).

Also, it is an uphill task to define popular culture due to itsqualitative nature and to rely on what the society refers to aspopular. There is an element of uncertainty about what is left outafter people define a high culture (Parker, 2011).

Therefore, the definition draws a boundary between the constitutionof a high and unpopular culture through nonevaluative means.Therefore, there is an inevitable denigration of the part of culturethat is some people do not regard as popular (Parker, 2011).

Therefore, there is no definition that is devoid of flaws. Scientistpoint out the fallibility of each other’s work and most of thembelieve that there is no single working definition thatcomprehensively elucidates popular culture.


Parker, H. N.(2011). Toward a definition of popular culture. History andTheory, 50(2), 147-170.