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Mass society

Parents: mass - society

Related: city - culture - industrial revolution - majority - mass culture - mass media - popular culture - society - urban

Mass society

Mass society is a society in which the concerns of the majority the lower social classes play a prominent role, characterized by extension of voting rights, an improved standard of living for the lower classes and mass education. Less often, the term mass society is also used by sociologists simply to describe a large society - i.e. one composed of many indivudals.

The theory of mass society, cited by Daniel Bell in the first essay in The End of Ideology (1960) as being "probably the most influential social theory in the Western world today", is derived from several sources. Bell, after a survey of the diverse origins and permutations of the concept concludes it does not apply to modern American with its many diverse voluntary organizations.

C. Wright Mills in his book, The Power Elite describes society as being divided between the power elite and the masses who are controlled by them [1]. Mills describes the American theory that power arises from the public as a "fairy tale", arguing that autonomous public opinion arising from public discussion does not exist, rather a disorganized mass which is acted on by an elite through the mass media thus shaping the nature of "public opinion". The theory of mass society has heavily influenced public discourse on popular culture and even scholarly popular culture studies. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_society [Oct 2005]

The theory of mass society

Mass society formed itself during the 19th century industrialisation process, through the division of labour, the large-scale industrial organisation, the concentration of urban populations, the growing centralisation of decision-making, the development of a complex and international communication system, and the growth of mass political movements. The term "mass society" therefore was introduced by anti-capitalist aristocratic ideologists and used against the values and practices of industrialized society.

As Alan Swingewood points out in The Myth of Mass Culture (1977:5-8), the aristocratic theory of mass society is to be linked to the moral crisis caused by the weakening of traditional centers of authority such as family and religion. The society predicted by Ortega Y Gasset, T.S. Eliot and others would be dominated by philistine masses, without centers or hierarchies of moral or cultural authority. In such a society, art can only survive by cutting its links with the masses, by withdrawing as an asylum for threatened values. Throughout the 20th century, this type of theory has modulated on the opposition between disinterested, pure, autonomous art and commercialized mass culture. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular_culture_studies#The_theory_of_mass_society [Nov 2004]

The myth of mass culture (1977) - Alan Swingewood

The myth of mass culture (1977) - Alan Swingewood [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

See entry on Alan Swingewood

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