Social Fragmentation

Over the past several decades’ society has undergone structural and cultural changes that have deteriorated past views concerning popular culture and its societal influence.  First off, postmodern sociologists argue that the disparity between popular and high culture has faded.  The absence of this distinction can be extrapolated to the social fragmentation that has resulted from neo-tribes, subcultures, appropriation and the role of agency.

Another societal shift that has attributed to a redefinition of popular culture is the concept that cultural consumption has evolved into a social practice. Urbanization has rendered cities into sites of consumptions rather than production (825, Zukin, Urban Lifestyle). Branding, merchandizing, advertisement, dedifferentiation of consumption, and the media have all contributed to this cultural transition. Consumption is now employed as a means of constructing one’s identity. The pretext that identities are fixed has been abandoned; instead identities are incessantly evolving entities defined by fluidity.

Globalization emerges as the third notable factor that has influenced not only our perception of contemporary popular culture but also our everyday life.  The time/space compression eloquently articulated by the sociologist David Harvey signifies the collapse of time.  In other words, past/present/future have emerged as different temporalities available in different locations.  Due to the unpredictable transnational flow of media text, a phenomenon coined by Arjun Appadurai as mediascapes, the past is present in different localities (i.e.: the dated pop culture of the West is regarded as ‘hip’ in less developed nations). Furthermore, agency has forged a pluralized relationship with time. The television and Internet afford a sense of electronic proximity with the world at large, and furthermore render accessibility to different avenues of self-expression, information, interest and entertainment.

The social fragmentation fueled by tribal formation, consumption’s evolution into a social practice and globalization has all influence the direction and perception of popular culture. The communitarian and societal implications of popular culture prove as unpredictable as postmodernism itself.  Yet this much is sure, popular culture has evolved into an international arena wherein identities are constructed and the distinction between the producer and consumer, high culture and low has become increasingly blurred.

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