Trends in Popular Culture

Popular comes from a Latin word meaning people. Culture that is popular, that is, of the people, is culture that is widely favored or well-liked by many people, and will therefore reflect their current tastes and preferences.

John Fiske noted that culture is the constant process of producing meanings of and from our social experience. Therefore, cultural products and their meanings will reflect the prevailing mood of our social experience.

Pop culture celebrities and trends may seem frivolous and even ridiculous at times, but pop culture itself is highly meaningful. It can reveal our culture’s preoccupations that are otherwise inaccessible, unveiling what we admire and to what we aspire.

Popular culture has also been described by Jane Caputi as a repository of social mythology, a narrative of what a society values and fears. It holds up a mirror to our collective imagination. Social mood influences what we see in the cultural mirror, whether bright and hopeful images or dark and troubling reflections. Popular culture is highly sensitive to the darkening influence of negative social mood and the uplifting impact of positive mood.

Robert Prechter noted that social mood also shapes the tenor of cultural expression. People express their mood in their choice of music, movies, television, clothes, books, art, political candidates and causes. Trends in these activities do not necessarily indicate how a particular individual might feel or act but they are a gauge of the net mood of the society at large. Major cultural trends peak and trough coincidentally with the stock market in their joint reflection of social mood.