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Essay The Role of the Audiences in Culture

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Introduction
In an examination of the role of audiences in culture, several key terms must first be established. The definition of 'culture' discussed in this research is 'culture as a particular way of life' and 'as signifying practices' (Williams, 1983). 'Active participants' refers to people who can 'freely and consciously exercise decision-making capacities' when it comes to their interpretation of culture and cultural products (Kirchberg, 2007). Structuralism, is defined as a way of understanding how 'all texts ... and all signifying practices can be analysed for their underlying structures' (Phillips, 2013). I will first examine structuralism in relation to popular culture.
Structuralism and its Strengths
Saussure, "father" of
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binary oppositions) in constructing meaning. Textual absences can help to reveal whose interests are served by omissions, paying attention to the unasked questions.
In popular culture, structuralism enables us to make sense of hidden messages behind the cultural products we consume and identify similarities between what is considered popular and unpopular, in order to recognize the homogeneity exercised by cultural industries. An instance of this is the case of the Korean wave in recent years which saw rising numbers of Korean boy/girl bands and the influx of upbeat, repetitive dance tracks similar in musical composition. Cultural industries capitalize on these trends to produce identical products which people may perceive initially as a variety, when in fact are simply synonymous products packaged differently.
Weaknesses of Structuralism
However, because the sign is essentially 'the combination of a concept and a sound pattern' whereby 'the link between a concept and a sound pattern is arbitrary', 'meanings are never fixed but always contingent on shifting and arbitrary systems of relationships defined by particular language systems' (Radford and Radford, 2005). This is problematic because we cannot be certain about the meanings of cultural products in popular culture if we do not understand its relevant 'language system'. This is complicated by the 'realities of actual language use and the manner in which
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