What is the relationship between mass and high culture?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the relationship that exists between both expressions of culture is that one envelops the other.  The notion of mass or general culture is one where individuals are sharing a set of common values or beliefs.  These help to establish an identity of a particular group or social and collective entity.  The notion of high culture is a bit different.  This refers to the appreciation and vaulting of cultural products that reflect an "elevated" sensibility.  High culture is a bit more discerning than a generalized vision of mass culture.  For example, all culture features art that is a part of its expression.  Yet, not every culture is privy to the construction and appreciation of work samples that represent high culture.  In the end, this notion of the cultural expression of elements that represent distinction and notions that lie above the fray of mass culture is what defines high culture and its expression.  On some levels, this can sound rather elitist, but I think that proponents of high culture would argue that there should be acknowledgement of endeavors that represent the essence of human greatness and the very best of what can be done by human beings' use of freedom and autonomy.  This becomes the basis for the appreciation of high culture.

geosc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Isn't that what some refer to as culture with a little c and Culture with a big C?  Culture with a little c consists of habits and beliefs and traditions and ways of doing things, while Culture with a big C consists of fine art, fine literature, fine architecture, the pagentry of the royalty, etc.