You are working in culture – what does that mean?

Culture Defined


The symbols of expression that individuals, groups and societies use to make sense of everyday life and to articulate values.

  • Cultural values can be contested
  • Many smaller, bounded cultures (sometimes co-cultures) exist within large, national culture
  • People who like football – cheer for a certain team(s)
  • Culture can divide and/or unite
  • Chocolate and Vanilla
  • AFC North
  • Edward and the werewolf kid with no shirt
  • Differentiation can divide (even within the group)
  • Culture constructed and maintained through communication (This is how you know who you are in the group) Soph, Richmond, Biology major

Functions and Effects of Culture

  • Limits our options and provides useful guidelines for behavior
  • Culture’s limiting effects can be negative
  • In pluralistic society, dominant culture (sometimes mainstream culture) often challenged openly
  • Co-cultures (smaller cultures within the mainstream)
  • Steelers Nation, Deadheads, Jocks, Stoners, Southern Ladies, Frat Boys etc.
  • Our culture can divide us Steelers vs. Raven – Americans vs. Communists

Fear of a Black Hat 1993

Cultural definition of communication

“Communication is a symbolic process whereby reality is produced, maintained, repaired and transformed”         (James W. Carey)


  • Our stories help define our culture
  • We know who we are by the stories we tell each other and the stories that we accept.
  • Change comes when we disregard the story.
  • What would make us disregard the story?
  • Something personal?
  • A change in media perhaps?
  • Changing the way we think

What story changed you?

(This is a good opportunity to think about how you talk about yourself on your blog.)

Models of Mass Communication

  • Linear Model:
    • Sender—message—mass media channel—(gatekeepers)—receivers
    • How does feedback fit into the model?
  • Cultural Approach:
    • Individual cultural component
    • Selective exposure
    • Storytelling

Coming back to “What does media do to us?”

  • Some who likes Beethoven also like American Idol.
  • Do The Munsters rip off Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein?
  • Does popular culture cheapen public life?
    • Some who likes Beethoven also like American Idol.
    • Did The Munsters rip off Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein?
    • Does popular culture cheapen public life?
    • TV sets in use for more than seven hours a day
    • Social media accounts for A LOT of your time
    • More refined culture struggles to find an audience
    • Popular media may inhibit social progress by transforming us into cultural dupes. (Go back to Brave New World.)
  • We have been seduced by the promise of products
  • The “Big Mac” theory: We have lost our discriminating taste for finer fare.


Write about how you see media influencing consumer culture? What stories are important in your view of yourself – either from a personal or a consumer position. Both are valid.

Include links, video if applicable and photos. 500 words. Due Thursday.


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