High And Low Culture Analysis

810 Words 4 Pages
The definition of what constitutes ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture has been a point of contention for many years, not just among cultural theorists but among individuals. When one attempts to define these terms, they’re met with a range of difficulties; things like context and cultural hegemony need to be considered. With public and illegal art practices as reference points, the concepts of ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture and whether they’re culturally constructed will be explored.
Context plays a very large part in determining whether something is considered ‘high’ or ‘low’ culture. In a study based in the Papua New Guinean village of Gapun, it was discovered, through the villagers’ interpretation of a Rambo film, that no text has a one universal meaning (Kulick & Willson, 1994). This concept is relevant beyond juxtaposed cultures; it applies to texts within the same overarching cultural context. There are many variables that help form the cultural meaning of something, meaning that seemingly everyone in certain contexts seem to understand. This finding can be applied to the simple act of ‘getting a coffee’. Who gets coffee (students, teachers, construction workers) and in which social context (dating, breaks from work, interviews) can
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The classic WWWWWH acronym is useful for analysing what alters context and how that, in turn, causes something to become ‘high’ or ‘low’ culture. Who – is the artist a professional or an amateur (and does location of art determine this status)? What – were the materials expensive or cheap? When – is the art pre-20th century or modern? Where – is the art in a gallery/museum or on the side of a building? Why – is the purpose mainly aesthetic or is it politically charged/inflammatory? How – was the art made legally or illegally? Asking and reflecting upon these questions is essential to dissecting how we as a society classify ‘high’ and ‘low’

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