Difference Between High Culture and Popular Culture

Key Difference – High Culture vs Popular Culture
 

When speaking of cultural subsets, high culture and popular culture can be considered as two subsets between which a key difference can be identified. In every society, there is a specific culture which is composed of human values, attitudes, beliefs, norms, mores, histories, social taboos, etc. This culture can be categorized as high and popular culture. High culture can be defined as a subculture that is shared by the upper class of the society. On the other hand, popular culture can be defined as a subculture that is shared by everyone or the mass of the society. In this sense, the key difference between the two cultures stem from who has access to them; while the upper class has access to the high culture, the majority of the people has access to popular culture.

What is High Culture?

High culture can be defined as a subculture that is shared by the upper class of the society. In other words, this includes the elites of the society. High culture consists of specific consumption patterns, lifestyle, literature, beliefs and attitudes, leisure activities that set the elites apart from the mass society. For instance, those of the high culture enjoy particular forms of art that the general public do not. Appreciating Renaissance art, going to the opera are some such examples.

There is a debate in the humanities that the emergence of popular culture has decreased the position of high culture with mass communication and education. According to this debate, the widespread of popular culture is now replacing the high culture that has been operating as a form of a tradition of the society.

Difference Between High Culture and Popular Culture

What is Popular Culture?

Popular culture can be defined as a subculture that is shared by everyone or the mass of the society. Similar to high culture, popular culture also has its consumption patterns, lifestyle, literature, beliefs and attitudes, and leisure activities. However, these are not sophisticated as in the high culture making them more appealing to the masses. Fast food chains and pop music are some examples of popular culture. Originally, the term popular culture was linked to the lower classes, although now popular culture includes the mass society.

Experts highlight that the spread of popular culture is mainly due to mass media. This can especially be noticed through various TV programs such as reality shows, new genres of music, movies, and even TV series. However, the impact of the popular culture on the lives of people is not limited to mass media alone. It even encapsulates the social politics, ideologies, fashion, and technology as well.

Key Difference - High Culture vs Popular Culture

What is the difference between High Culture and Popular Culture?

Definitions of High Culture and Popular Culture:

High Culture: High culture can be defined as a subculture that is shared by the upper class of the society.

Popular Culture: Popular Culture can be defined as a subculture that is shared by everyone or the mass of the society.

Characteristics of High Culture and Popular Culture:

Access:

High Culture: The upper class has access to high culture.

Popular Culture: The majority of the people has access to popular culture.

Spread:

High Culture: High culture is now decreasing with the spread of popular culture.

Popular Culture: Popular culture is embraced by the mass society; hence its popularity is ever increasing.

Examples:

High Culture: Opera, expensive restaurants, classical music, and renaissance art are some examples.

Popular Culture: Fast food chains, reality shows, new genres of music and fashion are examples of popular culture.

 

Image Courtesy:

1. Romanian Opera – View Interior By Petre Mihai ( CC-BY-SA-3.0 ) via Wikimedia Commons

2. Jennifer Lopez – Pop Music Festival (35) By Ana Carolina Kley Vita from São Paulo, Brasil (Jennifer Lopez | Pop Music Festival | 23.06.2012) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons