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Chapter 4: Folk and Popular Culture

Key Issue 1: Where Are Folk and Popular Leisure Activities Distributed?
Culture can be divided into folk and popular culture. Leisure activities, such as
music and sports, can be classified as folk or popular, depending on their
characteristics.
1. Compare the origin, diffusion, and distribution of folk and popular culture.
Folk culture origins are typically anonymous, and appear from
multiple unknown hearths. They usually spread slowly, because they
follow the steps of a particular group of people.
On the other hand, popular cultural specifics are usually created in
developed countries, and typically spreads through hierarchical
diffusion. Its distribution is unaffected by physical barriers, but
rather socioeconomic ones.
2. What geographic factors account for the diversity of cultures in the
Himalayas?
Physical barriers between different groups, which prevent them from
interacting and mixing and thus diffusing.
3. Compare the characteristics of folk and popular music.
Folk music is usually simpler, and the subject usually is everyday life.
Occasionally, folk songs may also pass down practical information.
Popular music is usually written by specific individuals to be
performed to mass audiences. They usually require more skill,
though pop musicians in a specific genre have more in common with
folk musicians.
4. What type of music do you like? Where does it fit in the popular music maps?
Just recently, I was introduced to the habit of listening to music for the
first time. As such, my tastes are quite banal and I cannot tell the
difference between good and bad music, although I am learning the basic
psychophysics and theory behind it. For now however, my top three
choices include Coptic liturgies and electro-jazz, as well as fast paced
organ music.
I am honestly not sure where that fits.
5. Describe how sports have been transformed from folk to popular culture.

Chapter 4: Folk and Popular Culture


Originally, through hierarchical diffusion due to the immense power
of certain countries as they expanded, folk customs they had
became global customs as they exported them around the world.
6. Are there any Olympic sports in which the United States does not even field a
team?
The US does not field a team for the Olympic Sport of Team Handball.

7. In what ways might gender affect the distribution of leisure activities in folk
or popular culture?
Expected societal roles and inherent biology may include or preclude
certain activities for certain genders in certain cultures. For
instance, in a more conservative society, contact sports may be
considered barbaric, and women are discouraged from it.
Key Issue 2: Where Are Folk and Popular Material Culture Distributed?
Important elements of material culture include clothing, food, and shelter. Folk and
popular material cultures have different origins, patterns of diffusion, and
distribution.
1. Compare reasons for distribution of clothing styles in folk and popular culture.
The environment definitely includes of precludes certain kinds of
clothingone would not find bikinis in the Sahara, for instance!
However, religious beliefs also play a huge role in clothing styles.
2. Can you think of other restrictions on clothing styles in developed countries,
perhaps in schools?
School uniforms are one such restriction, when they trump
considerations such as religion. For instance, in some schools in
China, the required dress in required, with no exceptions
whatsoever.
3. Explain reasons for folk food preferences and taboos.
Most food preferences come from the availability of foodstuff in the
environment, and are passed down through habit and legend.
Additionally, sometimes religious law and custom prohibit certain
food consumption.
4. Describe regional variations in popular food preferences.

Chapter 4: Folk and Popular Culture


Again cultural and physical factors determine preferences. The more
local the foods produced, there more consumption there is. However,
inherent cultural factors in a region also determine consumption. For
instance, in the bible belt there is a lower consumption of alcohol.
5. What foods do you avoid? Do you avoid foods because of taboos or for other
reasons?
I prefer a fusion of Western and Taiwanese food. There some odder
foods in China that I avoid, like raw crab or locust, but otherwise, I
have no taboos.
6. Do your food preferences match the predominant ones in your region?
Yes, pretty much. I enjoy local Shanghainese food, which is slightly sweet.
7. Describe factors that influence patterns of folk housing.
Again, environment is an extremely important one: places with high
winds most likely will not have multi-story houses and places with
heavy rainfall most likely will have sloped roofs. However, cultural
factors also play a part, whether it is affecting the geometry of the
house, such as in Babylon, believed in ancient times to be the center
of the universe so that to move it a single inch was sacrilege, or the
Mongol Yurts, who face a certain direction.
8. Describe variations in time and space of housing in the United States.
American migrants brought the dominant styles of the European
countries they were from. When they spread across America, they
brought their buildings of the world.
9. What factors were considered in the arrangement of the bed in your
bedroom?
Our household is not as fervently religious of others, so most
considerations were for environmental and practical reasons. For
instance, our bed is under the AC, so that the wind does not directly
blow onto the sleeping person.
10.Can you describe your house through reference to one of the past or present
styles?
Our house is European in nature. There are fewer and fewer traditional
Chinese houses in China, but I believe the most powerful expression of
culture is through values, and not physical artifacts. China has been
invaded and conquered time after time, by the Mongols, the Manchus, the

Chapter 4: Folk and Popular Culture


Khitans and the Jin, but each time, Chinese cultural inertia has proved too
powerful and utterly subjugated these tribes, so they became Chinese.
11.Which elements of material culture do countries depict in campaigns to
promote tourism?
They stress folk culture, because folk culture cannot be seen
anywhere else other than that country.