Watching news reports, shows, or commercials on TV, online, and in newspapers has become the routine; nobody considers it to be progressive. However, the routine side of the visual environment is not completely true. In fact, by doing simple daily activities, people create their own culture. Surprisingly, the concept of culture producers and consumers is rarely discussed in the literature, though it is an important field. The humans occur to be creators and consumers of the culture simultaneously. Daily activities have their primary purpose, and individuals do not attempt to assess the inner motivation of the social behavior and reasons for creation a culture to be associated with the routine actions. A need to identify themselves with tangible or intangible elements is the extremely frequent phenomenon in a daily life of humans, but little is known about the peculiarity on a personal level. Every individual belongs to some community even without conscious notice. Human beings are the social creatures similarly to many species of animals. Therefore, the presence of a certain idea that unites humans into a community is a pivotal factor for people. Moreover, the common factor occurs to render specific signs of identity that creates a culture of the community. Culture is mainly determined by ideology; thus, it has to be discussed in order to reveal the specific principles of its creation.
Ideology is closely related to the term of hegemony as society obeys a dominant ideology. Thus, the role of hegemony in the contemporary culture should be assessed. In fact, perspectives of social structuring and means of cultural creation are essential for the following discussion through the direct relationship between the culture and ideology. Thus, the paper discusses specific agents and mechanism of material and non-material culture.
Ideology and Hegemony in the Contemporary Culture
Ideology in the modern culture plays a crucial role. In fact, Marx assumed that ideology can be recognized as a complex of ideas and sensations regarding the surrounding world. Hence, ideology is a defined vision of events, phenomena, and other principles (Durham & Kellner, 2012). The larger context appears, in which economy, politics, and social structure are determined. At the same time, culture reflects particular features of a certain society. The correlation between ideology and culture is the following. Ideology determines culture in numerous ways so that any society is governed by some dominant system. The statement does not imply any exclusion. In fact, even the denial of any ideology can be considered as a distinct set of beliefs.
Therefore, evident links between ideology and material culture can be drawn. First of all, a concept of authenticity is applicable (Durham & Kellner, 2012). According to Marx, labor consists of production, reproduction, and distribution. A particular physical or non-physical sign creates an original form of products of labor. For instance, French wine has the specific taste and alcohol percentage, so it is usually consumed before the main course of meals. The factor reflects the French feature of eating exquisite food for long hours. As a consequence, every single bottle of French wine complies with certain peculiarities that are determined by historical and social factors. A combination of the factors comprises French ideology of food consumption.
By the same token, the concept of authenticity can be transformed into the specific element of non-material culture. Another interesting element is a concept of aura, which presupposes recognition of sensations for description of a particular cultural identity. The phenomenon can be traced back to the ancient concepts of mythology, when people were attempting to explain the world throughout coding certain natural phenomena into various divine and sacred events. The concept works in the same way as authenticity: any culture consists of the beliefs and concerns based on the perception of the objective reality. Thus, acting in terms of the biased beliefs renders aura of the culture (Durham & Kellner, 2012). Aura can be explained as a spiritual background; thus, sensational basis is important to non-material culture. There is a distinct evidence of relation between ideology and culture, as ideology determines non-material culture by implementing a set of beliefs and visions.
Based in the aforementioned points, the correlation between hegemony and culture becomes explicit. Hegemony is modified by the totality of social practices (Durham & Kellner, 2012). According to Marx, social practices are united with only one dominant ideology that creates hegemony. A distinct paradox occurs, as ideology determines the culture, but hegemony depends upon culture. Dominative elements may change, but they also will be determined by certain cultural features. One may argue that a contemporary hegemony of socio-cultural diversity is not a product of single ideology. It is certainly not true because a dominant ideology may be based on consideration of minor ideologies so that the concepts of authenticity and aura still can be applied.
Therefore, hegemony can be traced in striving for socio-cultural diversity in the contemporary society. Intensified globalization and spread of democracy across the globe boost the domination of the global ideology. As a matter of fact, the hegemony is justified by a social and cultural need for the new experience as long as the majority of nations have finished their social formation. The exchange of experience is a basic sign of the hegemony. Moreover, the possibility of appearance of the new cultures and communities can be assumed. A mixture of ideologies usually leads to the creation of a new society, which is why the contemporary hegemony is an intermediate step between traditional and new determinants of the cultural identity. However, a new culture will be determined in accordance with the same concepts as their application is an axiom, while syntagmatic factors of culture may vary.
The Sociology of Culture
The theory by Karl Marx can be utilized for support of the statement that culture and society are correlated. The theory suggests that any labor, as a sign of social unity, consists of three stages: production, reproduction, and distribution. The principle is applicable not only to labor but also to the other forms of social practices. Thus, a concept of social and cultural creation is the corresponding phenomenon. The concept suggests that society and culture emerge in response to the distinct factors that make humans different from animals. Thus, communication is one of the major factors among the elements of the theory.
Likewise, communication becomes a matter of social and cultural environment as it is their syntagmatic factor (Durham & Kellner, 2012). In other words, society and the culture both are determined by communication. The object of the process is a particular meaning or message that is accepted by a certain majority. Thus, communication is a cultural symbol that designates a particular attitude or opinion. The symbols or meanings are rendered via coding in a form of sign-signature, which complies with a preliminary concept of the majority’s authenticity (Durham & Kellner, 2012). Then, the message is produced, reproduced, and distributed in a favorable social environment, which is created by the target majority. Cultural codes that are adjustable to any social environment are called mass culture. The major determinant of mass culture is addressing of the majority of a particular society or even several communities. Moreover, the codes are not complicated and may not render a specific meaning of social identity. Thus, the cultural features are created so that ethnic or social identity can be deciphered through them.
A process of culture production is evidently complicated. The concept of encoding/decoding culture is utilized for the explanation of culture production. The same cultural code, however, is not comprehendible by all representatives of a particular society to the same extent. The concept of selective perception explains the phenomenon of discrepancy in understanding. The analysis of audience’s perception of television broadcasting suggested the innovative term to describe the difference in perceptions (Durham & Kellner, 2012). The selective perception is based on three degrees of cultural code perception, which are grouped in the following section. The first one is a hegemony dominant group. The group is characterized by direct and convinced perception of a cultural code. The second one bases on a code of negotiation. It acquires cultural codes only in cases when they address the global context. Thus, the second group accepts cultural codes only with a message applicable to the entire society. Moreover, the message usually describes the society from the positive side. The third group is driven by an oppositional code, as it does not perceive standard cultural messages. The representatives are likely to belong to the other cultural majority. Besides, the opposing group includes individuals, who prefer not to accept the distinct cultural codes in order to create their personal authenticity (Durham & Kellner, 2012). Eventually, the three different groups comprise a distinct culture.
An example of selective perception is the case of a famous American sitcom Friends. The series contain a wide range of cultural references. Some jokes about sexual minorities can be traced in the sitcom. The jokes do not offend the sexual minorities because homosexuality is used for a comic presentation of heterosexual characters. However, a certain percentage of the sitcom’s audience considers the homosexual remarks to be inappropriate even though the subject of sex is one of the key elements of the series’ jokes. The largest percentage, however, accepts the sort of comic representation normally. Moreover, Friends provide other controversial comic situations. Needless to say, some people are indifferent to the sensitive jokes. The example demonstrates that cultural decoding is not universal, since even the representatives of the same culture may not share all cultural codes completely. Hence, culture is created by the principle of hegemony; and the difference in message perception determines basic characteristics of culture. Thus, a strong influence of ideology on culture is a natural phenomenon.
In conclusion, it is appropriate to make a general comment on the fact that culture is determined by ideology. Ideology is commonly recognized as a set of beliefs and sensations that create a vision of objective reality. At the same time, culture reflects an identity of a particular social group. Therefore, ideology contributes to the formation of culture substantially. The results of such contribution are traceable in material as well as non-material culture. The signs of ideology can be spotted in material culture owing to the concept of authenticity that presupposes a distinct set of features of a particular society. In a similar manner, non-material culture is reproduced in accordance with the concept of aura that reflects spiritual peculiarities of a certain society or group. Since ideology is a determining factor of any culture, hegemony, as a dominating ideology, is present in any society.
Eventually, a factual process of formation a culture complies with a theory of Karl Marx. As long as labor is a social practice, the rest of the social activities can be analyzed in the same way. In other words, culture, communication, and other activities also consist of production, reproduction, and distribution. The perspective, however, places the theory in more complicated terms as discursive factor is present. Culture is created via coding of certain messages that are rendered through signs-signatures and perceived under specific social circumstances. Thus, the same cultural code is not perceived by the representatives in the same manner. The phenomenon is explained by the concept of selective perception that implies three groups of message decoding. Different degrees of acceptance of cultural codes comprise the entire cultural space for a specific community. In spite of the fact that cotemporary social tendency is oriented towards globalization and consideration of socio-cultural diversity, the concepts discussed above are applicable to any community or society.