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Herbert J. Gans (1927– )
Related: culture theory - nobrow - 'low culture' - popular culture - taste - 'high culture'
Popular Culture and High Culture: an Analysis and Evaluation of Taste (1974) - Herbert J. Gans [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Herbert J. Gans (1927– ) is an American sociologist. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_J._Gans [Dec 2006]
For decades, Professor Herbert J. Gans has published pioneering sociological studies and mentored generations of students via both his teaching and publications. In his work, Professor Gans expresses deep concern over social problems and how social science might be used to further illuminate them. His "Urban Villagers," published 40 years ago, still stands as a classic statement against urban renewal and the effects it can have on the community ties and patterns, which Professor Gans researched in an eventually demolished Boston Italian neighborhood. Professor Gans has never fallen victim to ivy-tower insulation. His works are classic examples of participant-observation studies—that is, actually talking and spending substantial time with people one is studying—at their best. --http://c250.columbia.edu/c250_celebrates/your_columbians/herbert_gans.html [May 2006]
Popular Culture and High Culture (1974) - Herbert J. Gans
Is NYPD Blue a less valid form of artistic expression than a Shakespearean drama? Who is to judge and by what standards?
In this new edition of Herbert Gans's brilliantly conceived and clearly argued landmark work, he builds on his critique of the universality of high cultural standards. While conceding that popular and high culture have converged to some extent over the twenty-five years since he wrote the book, Gans holds that the choices of typical Ivy League graduates, not to mention Ph.D.s in literature, are still very different from those of high school graduates, as are the movie houses, television channels, museums, and other cultural institutions they frequent.
"In this revised and updated edition, Herbert Gans extends his classic study of the roles popular culture and high culture play in American society. Gans argues in favor of all peoples' right to the culture they choose. He also looks at "dumbing down" and other examples of the new mass culture critique and lays out changes in America's taste cultures. Gans has added a new introduction and new postscripts to each chapter updating the original analysis to incorporate recent trends. via Amazon.com
Low, middle and high cultureHigh culture
Upper middle culture
- Interest in creative process and symbolism
- Preference for experimentation
- Introspection preferred to action
- Accepts different levels of meaning
- Expects consideration of philosophical, psychological and social issues
Lower middle culture
- A less literary verbal culture
- Figurative and narrative art preferred, especially if illustrative of individual achievement or upward mobility
- Enjoys nineteenth-century art and opera, but not early music or contemporary art
- Form must unambiguously express meaning
- Demands conclusions
- Unresolvable conflicts not made explicit
- Interested in performers, not writers or directors
- Influenced by word-of-mouth judgement
- No concern with abstract ideas: form must be entirely subservient to content
- Demands crude morality with dramatic demarcations, but usually limited to family or individual problems
- Performer is paramount: enjoys vicarious contact with 'stars'
- Considers ornateness attractive
Adapted from Herbert J. Gans (1974) by Stephen Bayley (1991)
See also: culture - Stephen Bayley - high - low
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