According to Stuart hall, ‘the structuring principle of “the popular”...

is the tensions and oppositions between what belongs to the central domain of elite or dominant culture, and the culture of the “periphery”.’ (Hall pp. 234) In response to Hall, consider: (i) how he elaborates a theory, or definition, of popular culture (ii) how one case study raised in the course so far, or one case study of your own choosing, fits within aspects of Hall’s definition above, that is, has oscillated between cultures of the dominant and periphery. Stuart Hall contends that the starting point in any study of Popular Culture should be “the double movement of containment and resistance” (Hall 198, p. 228), the oscillating relations between social forces which are made clear during struggles over culture, traditions and ways of life. This process of transformation is the key to Hall’s ‘structuring principle’ of the popular. Popular culture arises out of the transformation, where mores and traditions are altered and adapted resulting in something different. Hall reasserts that there is no “whole autonomous popular culture” (Hall 1981, p. 232) independent to the relations of the dominant and the dominated classes; the central domain of elite, and the culture of the periphery.

Towards the end of the nineteenth and into the twentieth century technology innovation and rise of industrial and post industrial modernity led to the creation of a new mass culture with a heightened relationship between the elite and periphery classes. This is the basis for Hall’s study of Popular Culture and his belief that cultural power and dominance has authority and results in real effects. In this lies cultural struggle, ‘a constant battlefield’ (Hall 1981, p. 233), which reveals certain forces aiming to maintain the division between ‘the people/not of the people’ (Hall 1981, p. 234).

As these power relations are constantly changing. Billy. p. the reconstruction or simulation of presence allowing the spectator to witness “an objective science of authenticity” (Taylor 1998. 165). 171). Jenny and Toby). This ‘otherness’ as Taylor (Taylor. The exoticism of Barnum’s . These characters perform stereotypical gestures drawn from (not always the subjects actual) native history. This struggle can often occur when different traditional and cultural forms intersect where one will “seek to detach a cultural form from its implantation in one tradition and to give it a new cultural resonance” (Hall 1981. In the example of ‘otherness’ such as Barnum and his Ethnological Congress of Strange and Savage Tribes (Poignant 2004) the dominant culture creates a reality (e.g. The birthing of Popular Culture in this instance routinely involves foundations of recreation and recognition. Their ‘otherness’ is born from reducing cultural difference to live performance to a mere reconstruction emphasizing the distinction between ‘them’ and ‘us’. 234). Hall explains that the cultural forms and the Popular Culture that result are dynamic. p. we can see how as some things are preferred and others pushed aside the dominant and dominated classes are distinguished. 1998) describes it is an ideal model for studying the tensions of the dominate and subordinate cultures wherein lie Hall’s definition of Popular Culture. which the subordinate accepts as normal. By looking at these changing structures. Taylor recognizes these subjects not as types or people but as “likenesses of particular people who were once alive” (Taylor 1998. During these transformations in power relations some objects of cultural form will cease to have value within it’s social field and will be appropriated into the Popular (Hall 1981. 236). p.

Strange and Savage Tribes satisfies the voyeuristic desire to see the ‘other’ through the illusion of a natural reality. B & C). the line between the periphery culture and the dominated culture is clearly distinguished and the elite is able to remain in superiority as stable. the medically dismembered. has seats arranged for viewings of more asylum patients. Hall’s definition of Popular Culture stands today in many instances of otherness such as Woodford Music Festival’s bizarre ‘Disturbia’ tent (see Frame A. and reassured as a knowable self by the ‘other’. The objects of ethnography here are eventually accepted as real . ‘I think they are cannibals?!’. watching tv and playing games however some take the a more questionable role. the emotionally challenged and the disabled: the there. are mere representations of the outcast of modern day culture. ‘Are they acting?’. Spectators are led to the next room which in fact. Therefore. the other. spectators discuss amongst themselves what they are: ‘are they real?’. The ‘Pigman’ are seen performing everyday tasks such as cooking. which are presented. it is acknowledged that the cultural struggle separates people and gives birth to the structure of Popular Culture. Presented as a foreign species. This is the “arena of consent and resistance” (Hall 1981. the them. assuming the identity of an asylum patient. Signs which ought to have a undeviating meaning are transformed and recreated disconnecting it from any relevant cultural significance as seen in Barnum’s show where barbaric otherness passed as interest in cultural difference. By doing this. 239) Hall identifies as the breeding ground for Popular Culture. A minivillage where upon entering one is confronted with unknown creatures referred to as ‘Pigman’. p. The disturbing images.

p.T. This struggle between the periphery culture and the elite results in a transformation of what was significant in meaning to a form of Popular Culture. The spectacle of otherness such as P.people in a “freakshow tent” (Woodford Spectator. This human zoo reconstructs a recognizable presence based on a spectator’s need for voyeurism leading to what is believed to be an authentic experience. is where this transformation occurs. can be described as “living proof of radical difference… everything the spectator wanted them to be. . 165). 2011). They are in fact a displaced reality displayed as exotic. Barnums Ethnological Congress of Strange and Savage Tribes and Woodford’s Disturbia Tent. or the outcast in a particular society. removed. except human” (Taylor 1998. When indigenous and native tradition. is dislocated. reinterpreted and recreated as an exhibiting manifestation of what that cultural object was once thought to be by a far superior force. The structuring principle of the popular.

The Drama Review. 42.) People’s History and Socialist Theory. McQuire. Spectator. no. vol. S 1998 Visions of Modernity. S 1981. Taylor. D 1998. Professional Savages. Woodford Music Festival January 2011 . London. ‘Notes on Deconstructing the Popular’ in Raphael Samuel (ed. Sage. ‘A Savage Performance’. Sydney. UNSW Press. 2. London. Poignant. Sam Newton. Routledge. R 2004.List of References Hall.

. B and C sourced from spectator.Figure A Figure B Figure C Figure A.

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