Popular culture

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Popular culture is generally viewed in contrast to other forms of culture such as folk culture, working-class culture, or high culture.


  • Today’s literature is prescriptions written by patients.
    • Karl Kraus, No Compromise (New York: 1977), p. 229
  • Even more important was American influence in Europe through its music, movies, and fashion. Unlike the Soviet efforts at gaining a cultural influence, there was little that was centrally planned about this. The State Department and the CIA tried to make sure that “healthy” American films and literature were spread abroad, but their successes were limited. Instead, company marketing and consumer responses ruled the roost. The ability of US film studios and record producers to make their output inexpensive and plentiful, while Europe suffered all kinds of shortages, also gave imports an advantage. In 1947, for instance, only forty French films were made, while 340 were imported from the United States. Though the music of Elvis Presley or the movies of Marlon Brando or James Dean were not set up to be propaganda for the American way of life, young Europeans liked them, in part because of their rebelliousness. Wearing T-shirts and blue jeans merged a form of protest against convention with identifying with US movies. In the mid-1950s, American and European teenagers were more united by Brando than by NATO.
    • Odd Arne Westad, The Cold War: A Global History (2017)

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