Definition And Features of Modern Culture Research Paper

Modern Culture


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            One thing that defines a person and describes his identity is his own culture. It is a vital aspect of man’s life that characterizes a person and provides his discernible characteristics of an individual, which sets him apart and makes him unique.

Every person possesses his or her own identity. Each has his or her own distinct personal traits that are acquired from both biological and social influences. The social environment is comprised of people, experiences and conditions that influence one’s society. Society, therefore, is responsible in fabricating a person’s characteristics. We conform to the existing cultures in society and we assimilate to it.

Parents bring up their children based on the culture that they have been brought up with, as well as the set of norms and values that they adhere to. They were raised according to the culture their parents have adhered to. Culture is a predetermined set of values in a society. Culture has been redefined by a potluck of arts, ritual, traditions and even political and economical systems. Our attitude, behavior, customs, philosophy, lifestyle, and tradition all make up our culture.

            Culture was developed throughout a society’s needs, history and changes. Society forms its traditions and beliefs based on their culture. As the society grew and more people came to settle, a more staple and established culture was developed, slowly adapting to the people’s changing needs. When people deviate or do not conform from social expectations, they are accused of deviance.

            Mass media is an industry that shapes and molds the society, which suddenly gained popularity due to its relevance and duty in the society. In the early years, the acquisition of information is quite difficult due to the forces and factors that hinder news and information in reaching the public. The inception of technological advancements and the popularity of mass media rendered the acquisition of news and information easy.

            Because of the powerful attributes of media, it influences the public opinion and other aspects of decision making of people. It also had a drastic effect on the society as it has the capability to shape the public.


            Culture is a concept that is difficult to define. There is no exact definition of the term ‘culture’ and many sociologists attempt to define the complex term that embodied many aspects of human life and society.

            One of the sociologists that examined the concept is Clifford Geertz. He is a cultural anthropologist who conducted studies in Bali, Java and Morocco. He had written various articles pertaining to different issues concerning the Third World but he is well known for his redefinition of culture and a distinct methodology for analyzing it (Hawley, 2001).

He claimed that culture is “a historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men communicate, perpetuates and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life” (Neuhaus, 1986, p. 132).

            Geertz explains culture as historically transmitted and inherited by the current generation from a long line of previous generations. It means that culture is something that is developed by the first settlers of the land and established a culture which includes beliefs, practices, norms and traditions that is adhered and accepted by the members of the society.

            However, even if culture is historically transmitted and inherited by people, culture undergoes significant changes and transformations that are essential in the dynamic changes of the society. Culture is always retranslated and redefined.

            Geertz conceptualizes that culture is a collection of symbolic figures that are utilized to create meaning. Symbol for him is “any object, act, event, quality, or relation which serves as a vehicle for conception”. After defining culture and determining its components, a method is needed to group the symbols in categories that will compose the various branches of culture. These categories include religion, ethnic identity, aesthetics, arts and law that govern a particular society (Hawley, 2001, p. 204).

            Geertz also suggests that each culture is composed of a control mechanism which dominates the culture. The control mechanism is composed of a unique set of ideas which regulates and shapes the individual into something that is unique. Each culture is also made up of symbolic devices that control behavior (Cohen, 1974).

            Another important aspect of Geertz redefinition of culture is that man’s biological constitution is not a product of his capacity for culture. Nevertheless, it was otherwise, that a man’s capacity for culture is a product of his biological constitution. Geertz claimed that the characteristics of man are not imprinted on the man’s biological structure. Instead, the biological and cultural evolution works together for the development of human culture (Cohen, 1974).

Mass Media Culture

            The contemporary society is characterized with the high dependence on media. It is evident that the society widely uses the different forms of mass media in various ways and motives. The mass media can be seen in all parts of the society even in the confines of every home.

            Culture can be referred to as the beliefs and values and the other frameworks that resulted from our experiences. Culture is also concerned with the process of how we communicate these ideas and values. Mass media is directly responsible of the proliferation of modern culture (Litnotes, 2002).

            The production of media texts and the reception of media are like a series of interlinked circuits. Products of such processes are influenced by cultural values. The texts are formed and represented as well as the readings of the texts are subjected to the same kind of influence (Litnotes, 2002).

            The popularity and extent of the media industry greatly influenced the people as well as the inherent culture of society developing it into something that characterize and adapt on the modern world.

            There is no society that is devoid of culture. Today, we associate culture with the mass media which appears to be unique in its relationship to the way of life of the people. Culture is always considered incidental with its direction towards a social end. Men always have an objective in establishing a particular culture. There is an inherent and established culture present in societies.

            The development of mass media culture or the type of culture that is communicated through mass media has a disturbing effect on both popular and defined cultures. The inception of mass culture causes various consequences on both cultures. The consequences on the defined culture are easier to determine because it provides historical background and comparison that can easily be employed. However, the popular culture is a type of culture which existed for a short span of time and is a displaced kind of culture and the consequences is quite difficult to determine (Handlin, 1992).

            Assessing the effects of the birth of the mass media in society is important. To some extent, the impact of the new media is simply a product of their size. The enormous growth of media has been of such order as to involve qualitative changes. Specifically, the impact of the mass media has altered the earlier forms of control. It has deprived the material communicated of much of its relevance and it created a gap between the artist and the audience (Handlin, 1992).

            It is argued that the modern culture is a product of the mass media. There are four areas that are the main definition of the influence of media on culture. First is that since the popular culture and media has already dominated people’s belief during this generation, culture and media has already found way to dominate reality. The world is now viewed as intertextual, wherein “images, copies, simulations and so on are so global that there are no authentic originals any more” (Litnotes, 2002, n.p). This allowed the popular culture to replace art and “high” culture, and as well simulated to replace reality and history. At this point, consumption has become far more important that production. Second, the postmodern influence of culture is rather focused on style. Pastiche, collage and bricolage – the art of  “mixing and re-using of images, signs and symbols” (Litnotes, 2002, n.p) – became more emphasized, wherein such process sacrificed the content or substance of the style itself. Third, the advent of media lead to the more confused and less secured concept of time, space history and place. As such, the advent of global communications led to the weakening of national culture. All of which caused further tension and uncertainty to the society.  The fourth and the last, since postmodernism is rather skeptical with the “absolute truths, artistic, scientific, historical or political,” anything that leads to the development of a secured sense of time became difficult to prolong. As such, secure and definite theories have become open to doubt and scrutiny (Litnotes, 2002).

            Today’s culture is aligned on what people see and hear coming from the mass media. The current trend and the present ideologies are all from the proprietors in the media industry. An example of this is the norm breaking the current trend in television. The mass media is breaking every norm and beliefs, as depicted in their programs. Some also feature taboo issues that are of considerable concern to the society like issues on sexuality.


Cohen, Y.A. (1974). The Impact of the Concept of Culture on the Concept of Man. Man in Adaptation. Hawthorne, New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

Handlin, O. (1992). Comments on Mass and Popular Culture. Mass Media in Modern Society. Norman Jacobs & Garth S. Jowett (eds.). New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.

Hawley, J.C. (2001). Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Litnotes. (2002). What do we Mean by ‘Mass Media’ and ‘Modern Culture’?. Retrieved November 22, 2008, from

Neuhaus, R.J. (1986). The Naked Public Square. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Company.


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Definition And Features of Modern Culture Research Paper. (2016, Oct 24). Retrieved from