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folk culture


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


“Folk culture” is a term which only make conceptual sense by reference to a particular interpretation of “industrial culture.” As Shiach (1989) shows, the idea of the “folk” was developed in the context of industrialization, and can only be understood by reference to the critique of industrial society developed by Romanticism. Folk culture described the culture of preindustrial (premarket, precommodity) communities, and was therefore taken to be organized around a number of characteristics: the oral transmission of songs, tales, and history; aesthetic authorization by tradition; the integration of nature and C ulture , body and mind; expression through R itual , in the collective deployment of S ymbols . There are obvious similarities between such descriptions of European folk cultures and anthropological accounts of communities in Africa and Asia, but “folk” is not an anthropological term. It is an ideological construct; it necessarily includes a critique of “modern” societies. The idea of folk culture has in fact served a number of different political and cultural ends (see Harker, 1985 ). As an aspect of nationalist I deology , folk culture is taken to be expressive of the true spirit of a nation, of its underlying beliefs and values, as articulated in specific forms of dress, speech, music, story telling, cookery, design, etc. Thus folk music – and folk music collecting – ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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