Popular culture

Popular culture

Culture as a way of Life

Culture is a broad term that can stand for a variety of things. In simple terms, it is defined as the fingerprint of each society. When one thinks about what serves to distinguish his or her society from other, one is thinking about their culture (Brown Jones & Gamble, 2016). It is important to note that while culture serves to be a unique identity, there are a number of cultural practices which serve to be quite similar to others, in fact, there have been cases of borrowed cultural practices.

Culture, in technical terms, refer to the collection of characteristics, knowledge, and heritage of a particular group of people which cover language, religion, cuisine, social characteristics, music tastes and forms of art (Brown et al., 2016). Each and every person born on the face of this earth is part of a culture. In order to understand how culture is a way of life, it is important to look at some of the theories which materialize its overall concept

Social Theory

The social theory is the overall foundation of culture. As already described above, the term culture is often associated with a designated group of people or society. Since the Cambridge learner’s dictionary defines social aspects as factors relating to the society, a clear connection can be made between the social theory and the overall meaning of culture (Mulachy, 2017). It is important to note that anything which correlates to the society as a whole is related to culture in the strictest sense. Since the social theory aims to study how human beings of a specific society relate to each other, it is part and parcel of the cultural concept.

Way of Life

Having established the correlation between culture and the social theory, the next step is to determine how they coalesce to standard conventional ways of life. In general terms, the way of life refers to how human beings have embraced existence since the dawn of time. One cannot fail to note that we have always been social creatures,  we are often characterized  by the desire to be recognized as part of a greater society. In today’s standards, one cannot live without friends. An overwhelming feeling of loneliness often affects people who chose to isolate themselves from others. Jobs and other tasks are always done collectively with a designated number of individuals. In conclusion, grouping together to form societies is a well renowned and undisputed way of life.

The social theory attempts to uncover social interactions between individuals of the same community. This shows that it recognizes the fact that human beings are not solitary but are rather social (Mulachy, 2017). The social theory hence supports the fact that being social is a way of life. Since culture studies unique habits and practices as per a society of individuals, it can be rightly concluded that culture is indeed a way of life. In essence, the study of culture aims at targeting particular societies; societies are formed as a result of social interactions which are a way of life. Hence culture itself is a way of life.

Political Theory

Politics point to leaders or subjects of leadership in a particular society. Since the community is primarily related to the study of culture, one can see how politics are related to culture. Each group of individuals has their own leadership system by which they deem fit. In today’s contexts, some leaders are elected via elections which are done after a particular period of time while others assume the role of leadership through a hereditary system. This sums up to the unique nature of most societies hence further strengthening the relationship between the political theory and the concept of culture.

Way of Life

Having established the correlation between the political theory and culture, the next step is to determine how they relate to the way of life. Culture is defined as the unique practices, ideas, and beliefs which are exercised by a particular society. It is important to note that some of these beliefs and practices are as a result of orders and decrees made by individual leaders. For instance, Egyptian culture which dictated that the pharaoh is to be buried with all of his belongings was raised by a ruler in the early BC’s the act was practiced until it became a part of their culture. In essence, political insight relates to the ruling party of a particular society. Some of these leaders influence cultural practices hence they influence the overall way of life, in conclusion, from a political perspective, culture is seen as a way of life (Fung, 2008).

Culture can be conclusively stated to be a way of life as looked upon from all perspectives. The very definition of culture qualifies it as a way of life. It is important to note, however, that culture covers the way of life for a particular society and not the world as a whole.

Case Study: Capitalism and Culture

The film chosen as per this discussion segment is “The Matrix” which was released in the year 1999. The genre of the movie is science fiction. It is based on a dystopian future which is perceived as a simulated reality referred to “The Matrix” by most humans. In this alternate future, Machines have taken over and have subdued humans in order to use their body heat as energy and sources of electric power. Neo, who is the main protagonist of the movie, discovers this and sets out to form a revolt against the machines. The film was critically appraised and receive ratings which were so good that it ended up having two sequels.

Meaning of Capitalism

Capitalism is the idea that material wealth is all which is needed for one to succeed. It allows us as individuals to pursue material assets through financial success (Brown et al., 2016). It is important to note the idea of capitalism is characterized by competition since some individuals do not achieve this goal. In today’s corporate world, one needs always to be one step ahead of the competition. The common term used is “Thinking outside the box. Capitalism has embedded the idea that the only way to financial success is work and not light work, heavy work. Capitalism takes into account that human wants will never be satisfied. To put this into context, people will want more money to satisfy their needs which are never-ending. As a result, they will engage in continuous work and will never stop in the process. This is the fundamental purpose of life by today’s standards.

Capitalism as a Culture

It can be argued without any hint of doubt that capitalism is a collective culture by today’s standards (Mulachy, 2017). A collective culture means that it is a practice done each and every culture in the world. This is mainly because it offers the basis of earning and sustenance, a factor human being cannot live without. In conclusion, capitalism can be rightly summed up as a way of life practiced by a lot of individuals. Since it has already been established that culture is a way of life above, capitalism which is also a way of life forms part of common culture.

The Matrix and Capitalism

As already covered in the synopsis, The Matrix lives by manipulating human beings, by doing so, the machines are able to draw their body heat and use it for energy. The machines created the Matrix as a simulated reality in order to trick the humans that it is okay to exist in such a reality and that such a practice does not have any implications involved, no change is necessary. Looking at it from a critical perspective, capitalism functions in the exact same manner.

The capitalist world can be likened to the Matrix where human beings are led to believe that getting an education, securing a job and having a hefty paycheck is the way life should be, no change is necessary. The capitalists, are, however, using this idea to trick human beings and actually benefit more from their actions. The trickery is also manifested to the idea that more work equals more money (Mulachy, 2017). The fact that human wants can never be fully satisfied act as the fuel behind this increasing work. The machines in the matrix can be likened to the capitalists who deceive the human beings into believing that such a society where their energy is harnessed is okay and without flaw, no change is necessary.

Since capitalism has already been established to be an integral part of culture, the film very well relates the two concepts, i.e., capitalism and culture.


Brown, P., Jones, S. & Gamble, C. (2016). Cultural identity and archaeology: the construction of European communities. London New York: Routledge

Fung, Anthony Y.H. (2008) Global Capital, Local Culture: Transnational Media Corporations in China. New York: Peter Lang

Mulcahy, K. (2017). Public culture, cultural identity, cultural policy: comparative perspectives / Kevin V. Mulcahy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan

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