Concepts of Elite Culture and Popular Culture


High culture refers to a set of cultural products mainly in the arts which is held with highest level of significance by the culture. It is a culture of elites such as people of upper class or who are well educated. Popular culture or low culture is culture of the poorly educated, people of low social class and barbarians. Culture comprises of practices values, common to individuals of a particular society. It consists of several societal traditions, speech, technologies, institutions, tools, rules, and products.

Being cultural implies that one is well educated, well mannered, and knowledgeable on arts of a particular culture. High culture which is usually pursued by people of upper class includes theater, fine arts, and classical music. Upper class people are able to pursue high art since they have cultural capital. This implies that these people possess qualifications such as information, education, communal and oral abilities which enable them to be superior in the society. Popular culture is generally a culture of middle class people and individuals who have low paying jobs. Low culture refers to, television comedies and soaps, films, pop music and games.

Role of elite culture

Cultural arrangements are likely to inspire superior forms of public contribution. Understanding of popular culture may give potential route to skills, resources, and identities that an individual needs in order to make a social change. Low culture can operate as a communal play field, whereby masses offer greater diversity of thoughts which are not usually accepted in political field (Browne, p. 121). Given the preference of popular culture, elite culture should enhance a more engaged citizenship by allowing individuals to exercise power within a low range and thing act as a way for a more meaningful public culture.

Elite culture should encourage active participation of members in cultural activities, live discussions, and mobilize certain important issues and topics that may lead to civic engagement and participation. High culture is supposed to demonstrate the meaning of citizenship which might enable individuals to have a clear knowhow on the way cultural connections and affairs endorse people to discuss, create, discuss and categorize themselves. This will in turn enable them to participate in communal matters and events, which can contribute to creation new forms of social norms and organizations. People who engage in after school programs and who participate in arts are greatly likely to become engaged in several civic activities. These people can support the growth of long term civic identities.

Preservation of elite cultural heritage

Elite cultural heritage should be supported and preserved because traditions and practices are passed from one generation to the other. Even if one does not practice the elite culture he is still part of it. It is important to keep elite cultural world history intact so that future generations will have opportunities to learn about their elite culture past and its roots. Cultural heritage helps people to minimize their differences and promote unity as they understand the cultural heritage of several people and their uniqueness. The best way of preserving elite cultural heritage is through sharing it with other people. Sharing of elite cultural heritage helps to enrich the lives of other people by offering a means of discovering diversity. People can participate or donate in associations that fund museums and workshops that aid to teach other people on their elite cultural heritage (Browne, p. 121).

Movies and reflection on culture

Movies, films, music and several products of media culture offers materials which enable people to create identity. It helps people to have a sense of selfhood, notion of what it implies to be female or male, sense of class, race and ethnicity and their nationality and of other people. Media images enable individuals to analyse the environment and their sincere morals, what is considered evil or right, harmful or helpful, and wicked or moral. Movie tales give the legends, signs, and resources, by which individuals form a universal culture and the best way to be part of the culture. (Couvares, p. 300). Movie images display the people in power, individuals who have the right to exercise force and those who are not in a position to possess and exercise power. The powerful exercise power and demonstrate how less powerless should remain in their acceptable places which are usually dictated by those in power (Belton, p. 56).

People should learn how to criticize, interpret, and understand the meaning of movies and their messages. Movies are reflective and usually misperceived foundation of cultural pedagogy. They enlighten individuals on the way they are supposed to conduct themselves, what to believe, think, feel, aspire and fear, fear and think. Movies and films demonstrate how the qualities one should possess in order to be a man or a woman. They display hoe people are supposed to look, dress, consume and how to react to different members of diverse social groups. They also demonstrate how individual achieve success and popularity and how they avoid failure, the way they live in accordance to the central structure of practices morals, customs, and institutions. When people gain knowledge on the culture they are able to live in environments of diverse cultures. Learning and gaining knowledge on how to criticize, read, and defy socio cultural exploitation may help an individual to empower himself in regard to governing form of culture and media. It might help individuals to self govern their culture and have greater authority on their cultural beliefs and practices (Hinds, p. 34).

American road movies reflect on American culture, steeped in the certain culture and images of their era. Road movies have common distinctiveness and one person, or a group of people trying to break away from reality they live in to be able to seek freedom and salvation. The actors take to the road to discover themselves. Modern street movies such as Easy Rider and The Grapes of Wrath reveal the fiscal and societal disorder of that time. The Grapes of Wrath displayed the Great despair in America while Easy Rider displayed how people were eagerly searching for liberty in the covetous and conventional America. The characters in both movies took to the streets in search for an improved living standard. The movies focus on a specified journey which geared by the sensibility of postmodern aimed at visualizing the world as a meaningless and disjointed with individuals who have no viable cultural beliefs as well as practices. An example of postmodernism movie is the Wim Wendars movie, the character drives off into the night in search for identity (Belton, pp. 86-9).

The Actor of this movie is disassociated and cut off from the society which gives the aspiration to look for personal identity. The implicated position of a father displays the actor both as a postmodernist and an existential and character. This film demonstrates that human should not only be responsible for their own lives but they should also show concern for other people. This is revealed in the movie when the character reunites with his mother. The character manages to generate ethical values that bring forth the meaning as well as sense to his life. Therefore movies reflect on cultures by displaying on how people should behave and react with people of various social groups.


  1. Belton, John. American Cinema American Culture, Third Edition. New York: Prentice Hall. 2002.
  2. Browne, Ray. Popular culture values and the arts: essays on elitism versus democratization. North Carolina: McFarland, 2009.
  3. Couvares, Francis. Movie censorship and American culture. Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press, 2006.
  4. Hinds, Harold. Popular culture theory and methodology: a basic introduction. London:Popular Press, 2006.

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Premium Papers. 2023. "Concepts of Elite Culture and Popular Culture." January 8, 2023.

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Premium Papers. "Concepts of Elite Culture and Popular Culture." January 8, 2023.