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Student Culture As A Form Of Culture

The representation of ‘student culture’ as a distinct form of culture

Culture is an extremely broad concept. It is a social phenomenon that refers to patterns of human activity and the symbolic frameworks that give such activities purpose and relevance. The word "culture" is derived from the Latin "cultura," which comes from the verb "colere," which means "to cultivate."

Cultures are networks of symbols and meanings that lack rigid borders, are continually changing, interact with one another, and are even contested by the people who created them. A population's collective lifestyle, including its institutions, beliefs, and artistic expressions, is collectively referred to as its culture. A society's entire way of life has been referred to as its culture. (Boston University School of Public Health , 2016)

The term "culture" is famously elusive. Similar to how it has various qualities, culture has multiple facets. Culture affects behaviour and how it is interpreted at various depths of manifestation. It can be distinguished from both the common human nature and the distinctive individual personality; it also affects biological functions. Despite being both an individual construct and a social construct, it is connected to social groups. The delineation of a culture's attributes will always be hazy because culture is always both socially and psychologically dispersed in a group and has both universal and unique qualities. Culture can change gradually and is something that is learned. To some extent, all of a culture's components are interconnected. The concept of culture is one of description, not assessment. (Spencer-Oatey, 2012)

While culture has many characteristics, there are also many myths about it, such as the notions that culture is uniform, a thing, distributed equally among group members, that an individual only possesses one culture, that it is a tradition, and that it is most importantly eternal. These outdated conceptions of culture are interconnected and reinforce one another. They significantly reduce the value of the cultural notion as an analytical tool for comprehending social action. (Spencer-Oatey, 2012)

‘An Introduction to Theories of Popular Culture’ by Dominic Strinati offers a critical evaluation of the attempts made by these theories to comprehend and appraise popular culture in contemporary countries. ‘Man culture’, ‘the Frankfurt School and the culture industry’, ‘semiology and structuralism’, ‘Marxism’, ‘feminism, postmodernism, and cultural populism’ are a few of the concepts the book presents. (Taylor & Francis Group , n.d.)

Dominic Strinati works as a Sociology Lecturer at the University of Leicester. Capitalism, the state, and industrial relations are one of his other works.

The growing interest in current social representations of females through cultural readings and the sociology of philosophy and society is a sign of the contemporary and widespread revival of women's rights and feminist theory. Feminism has a long history as a political philosophy and academic pursuit.

A chapter in Strinati’s book focuses on two significant events: ‘the rise of the modern women's movement starting in the late 1950s’, and the interpretation and critique of how and why mainstream culture and the popular press have treated women and their representations unfairly, unjustly, and exploitatively within the broader setting of gender inequality and oppression.

The claim that gender power imbalances are collectively and culturally fabricated, the development of a more mainstream yet feminist understanding of female audiences for popular culture, and the examination for a conceptual framework that takes into account class, race, origin, and other significant social boundaries appear to be the main components of modern feminism. (Strinati, 1995)

Earlier research on females and popular culture frequently focused on what Tuchman has referred to as the "symbolic annihilation of women."  This points to how women and their interests are overlooked, excluded, marginalized, or trivialized in cultural production and media depictions. Women are either not present or are stereotyped based on their sexual appearance and ability to conduct domestic work. In other words, by being absent, denigrated, or trivialized in the media, women are "symbolically annihilated."

The current sexual partition of employment and conventional ideas of femininity and masculinity are supported and maintained, it is believed, by cultural depictions of women in the mainstream media. The "symbolic annihilation of women" done by the media proves that women in patriarchal societies are doomed to the roles of housewife, mother, etc. Cultural portrayals that seek to make these positions seem like they are women's inherent prerogatives, socialize women into playing them. (Strinati, 1995)

The concept that media operate as socialization ambassadors teaching youngsters in particular their suitable sex roles and symbolically gratifying them for the right behaviour appears to be supported by experimental studies done in the practice of cognitive psychology. As a reflection of prevailing social norms and since male media producers are swayed by these assumptions, it is believed that the media perpetuates sex role stereotypes.

Tuchman examines the data on the United States of America between the 1950s and the 1970s and finds that this claim is particularly valid for popular media like television and the press. When it comes to television, she learns that women are noticeably underrepresented while men typically dominate the shows; the few females who are depicted working are depicted as ineffective and most definitely not as proficient as their male colleagues; and "more generally, women do not appear in the same professions as men: men are doctors, women are nurses; men are lawyers, women are secretaries;" (Tuchman, n.d.)

As a result, this entire process has led to the depiction of men and women in the media that is consistent with the cultural stereotypes that perpetuate traditional sex roles. Typically, men are depicted as being powerful, energetic, assertive, and influential in a number of significant and varied roles that frequently call for professionalism, efficiency, reason, and the ability to carry out an action successfully. Women, on the other hand, are typically portrayed as being inferior, docile, accommodating, and marginal, executing a small number of unimportant, ancillary duties related to their sexuality, emotions, and home life. The media's representation of the sexes in this way validates the inherent nature of gender roles and disparities. This "symbolic annihilation," it is argued, means that women, their existences, and their concerns are not correctly represented in the media. Women's true lives are not depicted in popular media culture. The mass media's omission, bias, and distortion are the antidotes to the exclusion, condemnation, and trivialization of women. (Strinati, 1995)

Instead of providing its audience with the actual world they truly live in, popular culture offers them a dream, a substitute world. People must not be shown what these sex roles actually look like for the mass media to fruitfully socialize them into the reality of those roles.

Feminists have focused on the parts of popular culture that deal with advertising and how it portrays women. According to Baehr, the women's movement has addressed what it has inaccurately referred to as "sexism in the media" critically and frequently furiously from the very beginning.

Tania Modleski is a professor of English at the University of Southern California who specializes in feminism and cultural criticism.

In her book, ‘Feminism Without Women,’ Modleski analyses the connection between gender and mass culture and offers one method to understand the differences between feminism and the transition between feminist critiques and studies of popular culture. Her claim is significant because it goes beyond claiming that popular culture and cultural studies have "annihilated" women by questioning the fundamental vocabulary and presumptions used to evaluate popular culture. The main argument made by Modleski is that gender is fundamentally relevant to both the notion of mass culture and the analysis of popular culture as a whole. The categories that are employed to understand mass and popular culture are the subjects of Modleski's argument, which at this point may not seem to raise any issues. Her argument is a strong refutation of the idea that gender is merely another element that must be added to the picture of popular culture in order to make it more comprehensive and representational than it already is. For Modleski, the issue is far more complicated. She claims that the necessity for feminist criticism becomes clear at every level of the discourse because our ways of considering and feeling about popular media are so inextricably mixed up with concepts of the feminine. She is worried that since mass culture is associated with femininity and high culture is associated with masculinity, women have been made to bear the burden of mass culture and its negative repercussions while men are given the privilege of bearing the burden of high culture, or art. (Modleski, 1991)

The expectations and stereotypes that society has for women are largely to blame for this. Today, the phrase "stereotype" is virtually invariably misused. This stems from the entirely reasonable concerns of many groups, most notably blacks, women, and gays in recent years, to how they are stereotyped in the media and common speech.

Stereotypes tend to be biased in some way. It goes beyond simply replacing reality's immense blossoming, buzzing disarray with order. It is more than just a shortcut. It consists of all of these things and more. It is the assurance of our self-respect; it is the projection of our own perception of our own worth, position, and rights upon the world. Therefore, the emotions associated with the stereotypes are strongly conjured up. They serve as the stronghold of our culture, and inside its walls, we can continue to feel secure in the position we have. (Dyer, 1999)

Lippmann's idea that stereotypes are a quick fix highlights how stereotypes are a very straightforward, appealing, and simple-to-understand method of representation that is nevertheless capable of compressing many connotations and a vast bit of intricate information.

In the article "Rethinking Stereotypes”, by T. E. Perkins, it is stated that stereotypes' apparent "simplicity" is deceiving. To use the term "dumb blonde" appropriately and comprehend what is meant by it, signifies much more than just brains and hair colour. It quickly alludes to her sex, which speaks to her position in society, her dating life, her unwillingness to act or think, and more logically, and so forth. In short, it necessitates an understanding of a complicated social framework.

According to a study by Amy K. Kiefer and Denise Sekaquaptewa titled "Implicit Stereotypes, Gender Identification, and Math-Related Outcomes: A Prospective Study of Female College Students," gender identification and implicit and explicit gender stereotyping have an impact on undergraduate women taking calculus courses at the college level. After the first midterm exam for the course, assessments of women's gender identity and gender stereotypes related to math aptitude were made. Gender identification interacted with implicit, but not explicit, stereotyping to influence how well women performed on their final exams and whether or not they wanted to continue professions in math. On the final exam, women who had low gender identification and low implicit gender stereotyping performed best, whereas women who ranked high for both traits were the least likely to choose professions in math. The reasons behind women's underrepresentation in math and the hard sciences are examined. This is an example of student subculture. (Kiefer & Sekaquaptewa, n.d.)

Like every other culture, student culture has subcultures. Subcultures develop as attempts to address shared issues caused by inconsistencies in the social structure, and they produce a type of communal identity from which an individual identity can be attained apart from that defined by class, education, and occupation. (Brake, 1985)

In a different study, Kaplan and Goldman used role-playing to examine the gender stereotypes that 49 male and 53 female college students held. Regarding attitude questions about women's roles in society, around half of the male and half of the female participants reacted as they thought the average man would; the remaining participants responded as they thought the average female would. Results reveal a relationship between respondents’ gender and sex stereotypes as well as a statistically significant difference between the centroids of male and female sex stereotypes. According to the interaction, women are more likely than men to see a gap between the stereotypes of women held by people of other sexes. (Kaplan & Goldman, 1973)

Although the word, 'stereotype', itself can refer to concepts, behaviour, places, and so on, it is important to accentuate the role of conceptualization in the peculiarity between archetypes, and stereotypes. Since what is attributed to a type as a universal and perpetual trait, thereby making it archetypal, may only be a historically and ethnically precise trait misunderstood as a universal and eternal trait — after all, it is the inclination of prevailing value systems in societies to pass their values off as universal.


Boston University School of Public Health, 2016. Cultural Awareness. [Online] Available at:[Accessed 2022].

Brake, M., 1985. Comparative youth culture: the sociology of youth cultures and youth subcultures in America, Britain, and Canada.

Dyer, R., 1999. The Role Of Stereotypes. Edinburgh University Press.

Kaplan, R. M. & Goldman, R. D., 1973. Stereotypes of college students toward the average man's and woman's attitudes toward women. Journal of Counseling Psychology .Kiefer, A. K. & Sekaquaptewa, D., n.d. Implicit Stereotypes, Gender Identification, and Math-Related Outcomes: A Prospective Study of Female College Students. 18(1).

Modleski, T., 1991. Feminism Without Women. 1 ed. New York: s.n.

Spencer-Oatey, H., 2012. What is Culture? A Compilation of Quotations. Global PAD Core Concepts, p. 23.

Strinati, D., 1995. Feminism and popular culture. In: An Introduction to Theories of Popular Culture. s.l.:s.n.

Taylor & Francis Group , n.d. An Introduction to Theories of Popular Culture. [Online] Available at:[Accessed 2022].

Tuchman, G., n.d. Women's Depiction by the Mass Media.




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