Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How Do People Define Culture?

Realizing the fact that I’m a student who’s taking a Sociology class at Northwestern University in Qatar, I have definitely gained a better insight into the mechanism of this study in real life, as well as noticing how cultures and societies are greatly affected by each other. And of course, knowing the core elements of these two subjects is essential to achieve the full acknowledgement of this study. Although it’s true that I have heard the terms “subculture, norms, taboos” and many other terms in my life before, I have never actually knew how can they be applied on societies and on “real people” until I took this course. For instance, I never knew the vital and pivotal roles that norms play in a society until I had to break some of them in order to be able to write my first short project, a norm violation experiment.

However, people that have never taken such a class, have never read a book about it, or have never gone through special social situations absolutely have their own ideas and perceptions about the real meaning of culture. Some people might define it in a very generalized way, saying that it is all the apparent elements of a society. They would definitely include “frequently-referred-to” terms, such as traditions, celebrations, architecture, and religion. They might also clarify and say that religion can’t be considered a cultural element unless it is reflected through symbols, clothes, or special ceremonies. True. But this answer is clearly not what a sociologist or a sociology student is aiming for.

People often consider culture to be material culture only; the explicit things that they can touch and see (Griswold, “Culture and Societies in a Changing World). In contrast, they often ignore the non-material—implicit—culture, in which it is represented in beliefs, values, norms, gestures, and other implied elements of a society. The conception that people have about identifying cultures through their exterior elements—only—is false. Sociology wouldn’t even exist without the linkage between the implicit and the explicit elements of a society. A good explanation of what I’m trying to elaborate can be illustrated through the following example:

When you go to a church, you don’t expect to see soldiers standing in lines, practicing and drilling for their second heroic mission. You would expect the place to be quiet and peaceful, and you would expect to see people praying or reading the Bible because that’s the way it goes in sacred places. There are special religious rituals, behaviors, and atmospheres that conquer the place and they don’t have to be materially placed right in front of you that tell you how to act or behave. It all comes out of you spontaneously.

I interviewed a few people from the Education City in Qatar to know how they define culture from their own perspectives:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

You call that a handshake?

Through many years the most known gesture was a handshake. It expressed respect and friendliness to the other person. Today, people managed to develop their gesture which mainly presented their cultural identity and individualism.

The functionalist theory suggests that symbols and practices surrounding popular culture brings people together by generating a shared sense of social solidarity. So, today, the way you greet someone expresses the society and culture you come from. In-fact, it could represent the subculture you belong to. For example, hip hop fans have certain gestures they understand and interpret in their own way. While on the other hand, Kings and Queens have very different gestures that expresses their belonging to a royal family.

But today, a gesture doesn’t only represent your society or culture it symbolizes individualism. People now greet each other with different gestures than the culture or society they belong to and no longer need to commit to their society’s gesture. For example, in many of the gulf regions men greet each other by nose. However, this gesture is not preformed by every member of the society, some people prefer to greet each other with a high five or just a hand wave! 
A hand shake is no longer the ultimate gesture and the most recognizable one.  Many high school and college students have created their own unique gesture to greet each other and most of them agreed that a handshake expresses formality. So, greeting someone with a handshake is now conceded a professional gesture used for strangers and older people!

While observing my friends way of greeting each other, I’ve noticed that each person greets in his own way. In the Arab regions, there is the confusion of kisses. In the gulf region girls greet each other with three kisses on one cheek while in other countries girls greet each other with one kiss on each cheek. Also, in most of the Arab countries, men don’t greet women which sometimes could lead to an embarrassment to both sides.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Marine Festival in Qatar - subculture much?

Well, if you have not been to the Qatar Marine Festival in Katara, then you have missed something that we do not get to see in Qatar that much. Qatar Marine Festival, was organized from 16th March to 26th March in Katara, courtesy of the government I believe. It was splendid, beautiful and very different. More than the 'marine' things in the festival, what I enjoyed personally were the people and the gathering. For an hour, I felt I was not in Qatar...really.

There was everything and anything, you could possible imagine. From the collection of very unique kinds of fish, to sand art, seal show, food, magic show, volleyball, dancing fountain and even some random small golf fields in between. I went on Friday, which obviously is a 'family day' in Qatar and that place was crowded. A crowd, that I do not usually see in Qatar. People from all different countries, people dressed in their own ways and children and families. It was a big sub culture right there inside the festival. Every single individual was enjoying the festival - some praising the local artists, some examining the sand art, children trying to scare fish in the aquarium, and some playing the mini-golf fields. The whole festival was a mix of culture in fact.

We had a couple of sand artists from a different region, definitely imported. There was a Russian Balle group from Russia. Most of the fishes were imported from outside the country. There were artists from Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other gulf countries. The jumping volleyball team was fun to watch and the live commentary was even more fun.

I think one of the most interesting aspects of the festival was the "dive into the past" tunnel where they had all the different kinds of fish and also they would place a fish on your hand. Here is a photo where an employee was handing over a fish to anyone who just wanted to feel that ticklish fish on their hands.

Overall, I would say, the experience for me at the festival was an experience of being in a different subculture, a different country, a very diverse crowd and overall many different new things to look forward to in Qatar. Next time if there is an unique festival like this one, you should definitely go because even if you don't enjoy the festival itself, you will definitely enjoy the increasing different crowd of Qatar.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Growing Up in the 90's - A Subculture Without borders

Now this is a story all about how
My life got flipped-turned upside down
And I liked to take a minute just sit right there
And tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel-Air

Anyone who's a 90's kid knew those words by heart when they were kids. People who grow up in a similar decade have their own subculture. They share similar interests, have certain phrases and things that only they understand. This is most true for people who've grown up in the 90's, anywhere in the world. I myself grew up in the 90's and whenever I've talked to someone else who grew up at the same time, no matter where they're from, we share the same childhood, for the most part. This is interesting since it shows that this subculture is one that goes beyond borders.

The internet is filled with nostalgic videos and sites where people recall the 90's with the unlimited amounts of boybands, family sitcoms, feel good saturday morning cartoons or cheesy dances. Yes, while today's children may have The Soulja Boy or something called a Hoedown Throwdown , we had something called The Macarena and The Carlton, and yes I realize I've mentioned the Prince of Bel Air 3 times already.

Every subculture has certain phrases that have significant meanings to them, the same goes for 90's kids, anyone who grew up in the 90's will know phrases such as "Talk to the Hand", "so is your face," "...NOT", "Psych!" and the ever popular "Then why don't you marry it?" Furthermore, ask anyone about their favorite toy in the 90's the answers will vary from Polly Pocket , Furby, or Tamagotchi.

These similarities between practically every member of this group makes this a subculture. The fact that they also have a mutual respect for one another, at least in these videos and websites where one person put it "If you were born in 1993 or later, beat it." These memories that this subculture has is very precious to them and they are very selective of who qualifies as a 90's kid as evident by all the quizzes that exist to separate the real 90's kids from the fakes.

In conclusion, if you remember: hanging by the television with a tape recorder to record your favorite song, calling the radio to request your favorite song, and never getting through, if you have pondered why Smurfette was the only female Smurf in the village, if when playing power rangers with friends you fought over who got to be who............and still all ended up being Tommy, if you got injured in a slip 'n' slide, a time when caller ID was the new cool thing to have then you belong in this subculture.

What Isn’t McDonaldized?

Toronto’s Distillery District

The process of rationalization and mass production are applied not only to our widespread fastfood chains, but also to other businesses and retail stores. A society that is increasingly run like a fast-food restaurant is said to be McDonaldized. There are reasons why aspects of Mcdonaldization have become more and more appealing to industries worldwide and have been integrated into their systems and manufacturing process. Essentially, the concepts behind it are so effective – they yield results, and most importantly, money. The strategies are “rationalized” based on quantity over quality, and everything is so controlled, that it subdues any room for individuality, authenticity, creativity, and the prioritization of quality over quantity

When I think of anything that hasn’t been Mcdonaldized, any experience that holds the key ingredients not permitted in the “rationalized” businesses (creativity, individuality etc.) I remember restaurants that are family owned, have almost zero branches, boutiques, small art galleries and workshops, cafes that are everything a Starbucks is not. I remember my visit to Toronto’s Distillary District that dates back to 1832 and is an official national historic site of Canada. There is culture on every corner, wherever you look you see heritage, history, art, individuality, creativity, and authenticity. It’s in the architecture itself, the buildings, the cafes, the restaurants, the art galleries, the shops, the stalls, the whole “feel” of the place, that opposes everything McDonaldization is.

The main experience that came to my memory in the Distillery District, was the everlasting impression of a chocolate café called Soma that is unlike any I have ever been to. It is nothing like Maya, and Chocolate Bar here in Doha, it is truly an exotic, rich, and authentic café that offers just exotic, rich, authentic, home-made chocolate, gelato, and other chocolate drinks and foods. When you first step inside, you know you are about to experience something different. The first of your senses to detect that is your instant whiff of delightful and mouth-watering chocolate…rich, fresh, home-made, hand-crafted chocolate.

My mom didn’t know where to start – she wanted their famous Mayan hot chocolate, chocolate espresso, their “famous” Mayan hot chocolate, she wanted to dive into the organic flavorful chocolate of all kinds. This was different. It’s not the chocolate you get in your local supermarket. Everything from the shopping experience, seating, servicing, packaging, display, and interior to the ash basket/tray provided for you to place the chocolate you want to buy on so that the chocolate doesn’t melt. I still remember the friendly hand-written note above the stack of oriental ash trays “Chocolate melts at body temperature. Please use our lovely trays to place your selections”. I’d place my “selections” on my head if I have to!

Then…you get to the counter…more small batches of heavenly looking chocolates, some stuffed with organic blueberry, or raspberry, or strawberry, or some berry I haven’t even heard of…but it all looks good, each kind has a small description in front of it…

White chocolate, dark chocolate, extra dark chocolate, extra extra dark chocolate, milk chocolate….
At this point my little sister and I were about to loose it….

When I finally settled on the Caramel Kiss Truffle and Almond Cluster Dark Peruvian, the kind lady at the counter, put each small piece into individual boxes. The way she held them with her gloves and tissue paper, is nothing like the way your McDonald’s server would carry your fries or soda…she was holding them like it took 7 hours to make one of them, like the genius of five people went into its making…

When you sit to enjoy your rare treat, you are left to gaze into the kitchen and preparation room, all surrounded by glass…these guys are obviously not trying to hide their “backstage”….and its no wonder why. They use old school chocolate machines and tools and hand-crafting methods, small batch production. All original, all authentic. It definitely takes more than a push a push of a button, or a pop up on a screen in order to make what Soma Chocolatemaker does. It takes skill. This is not a de-skilled, dumbed-down process of mass-production of food. There are no conveyor belts, deep fryers, fast-paced robotic processes. Each piece of chocolate is made skillfully and carefully.

The four dimensions of McDonaldization: efficiency, calculation, predictability and control, are not the foundations of such a business. Quality obviously comes before quantity. Their products are made in small batches, fresh, daily, and are limited. They are not selling you Big Chocolates, but small savory samples, with the option of buying more bulk forms of whole bars of various kinds, but of the same high quality and superb taste. In terms of efficiency, it is not really an example of producing as much chocolate in less time, otherwise we’d be seeing the crafters surrounded by high-tech machinery that does everything in huge amounts – fast. Instead, we see more hand work than machinery, and not the mass-production technology and machines, but those that remind you of artisan times. It definitely does not substitute human labor for non-human labor, there is no real automation or de-skilling of the workforce, since it depends greatly of the skill of hand-craft chocolatiers. It is not a process of standardized outcomes, if anything is standardized, or maintained, it is the high quality of their products.

It is probably obvious by now, that I can talk about this place for ever, but the point is our society is being McDonaldized more and more, everyday, that such experiences are becoming so rare, and unlikely. When I think of examples here in Doha of a somewhat similar experience to the Distillery District in Canada, I think of projects that aim to preserve, revive and protect heritage and culture, those that try to oppose the fast commercialization and westernization, places like Souq Waqif, Katara Cultural Village, Islamic Arts Museum.

There is definitely an interest growing out there to combat the expansion of McDonaldized services and industries, and big box retailers, my hope is that these opposing groups will continue to grow.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Intelligence & Culture

To define culture, we can point at a group of people who have mutual understandings, experiences, and beliefs. Culture shapes our way of living, and contributes in building our standards in life. The interaction between different cultures highlights major differences and similarities as well. Some people find it difficult to cross their cultural zone and prefer to maintain a formal interaction between alienated cultures. However, Some people have the ability to adapt to outsiders and interpret their gestures and attitude just the way they do with their compatriots. This is called ‘Cultural intelligence’.

It requires for a person with cultural intelligence to use his senses to understand that the people he’s interacting with are different from his compatriots. After conducting, the person can easily anticipate what the reaction of the people will be and his inferences will be stereotype-free. People who are socially efficacious among their colleagues, are the ones who end up being accepted by alienated cultures. Also, those who are detached from their culture are able to interact and adapt with other cultures. However, those who are attached to the norms of their society are mostly considered as alienated people and they have a difficult time adapting to strangers. Interaction is the most important step that a person should carry out in order to advance her or his perceptions of various cultures. People with cultural intelligence will not relay on taking training programs and learning about a cultures’ customs, but will use their own learning strategies to understand the mutuality between the alien culture and their own. Also, the study of foreigners’ body language is one way to win their trust and openness. Through that, we can make ourselves understand how to interact with other cultures and adopt with them through logical strategies and respect. We have to observe the surroundings of unfamiliar cultures and focus on what is common with our own.

What many people are not aware of is that intelligence tests and especially the IQ test rooted based on racial and cultural bigotry. The creators of the modern testing field have advocated eugenics. “Eugenics is a movement concerned with the selective breeding of human beings” (Robert Sternberg). The initial aim for eugenics is to have humans with certain traits mate together and have their offspring inherit these traits. Therefore, a better human race is formed. IQ tests that have been taken by people from different ethnic backgrounds have indicated dissimilar average scores. A study used to measure a group of students’ intelligences has demonstrated that white students with privileged backgrounds were identified for their high-analytic intelligence, and those with high scores in practical and creative skills were racially and economically diverse. Within racial groups, genetics have their influence on some factors of intelligence. However, the IQ test is not able to indicate these factors that caused differences in the results of racial groups. When a society is highly diverse, creating a closed system by concentrating one certain type of students will result in neglecting the achievements of other types of students. Thus, The society is unintentionally neglecting what other groups have to offer.

Cultural intelligence is only one segment of many intelligences out there. There are many factors that influence intelligence and individuals perceive different factors on their culture and environment. Success is our initial goal in life; intelligence can contribute in playing a big role in achieving our goals. Our thoughts that we have in mind are applied through our actions and intelligence helps us develop them to a sophisticated and more organized level.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

We are being McDonaldized!

After reading about the McDonaldization of the world I was really curious to start experimenting with the ideas suggested, specifically in fast food restaurants. A few days ago I went to grab some lunch, with a friend of mine, and without intending to we ended up in Hardees.

I saw the large recognizable Hardees star from a distance and my brain suddenly decided i was craving burgers, perhaps it was because of all the McDonalds talk we have in sociology class. As soon as I walked into the fast food restaurant i was greeted by all of the staff, everyone smiling like they've know me their whole life.

I head to the counter and give the employee my order, and after I am done she asks what size and wether I want corn on a cob, or chili fries, or cookies as a side-order to my meal. I tried to look at her screen to see if there were small picture icons, just as the ones in MacDonalds, but I couldn't see anything because her hands were in the way. After I give the lady on the main counter my oder she immediately turns and screams it to the man standing closest to her. The man then heads towards the kitchen where you can see everyone is hard at work (doing the four point press i assume) , and he screams the order out again. I look past the counter to take a peak through the kitchen and I could see all the employees standing in different places, each one doing a different task to achieve the final product, the burger.

Everyone is wearing the same working uniform, apart from one man who is wearing a normal buttoned-down shirt and black pants. He just stands there and observes the other employees working, and occasionally looks at the customers and smiles. The manager continues looking back and forth between the employees and the customer, probably to make sure everyone is doing their job and that the customers are happy.

Within a few minutes the burger is prepared and one of the employees slides it down the hot metal plates. I could see other burgers stacked on the plates, waiting for someone to order them. After getting the burgers and sitting down, I take off the top bun and sure enough theres a standardised measured amount of mayonnaise and ketchup. This experiment confirmed the theory about the MacDonaldization of fast food restaurants.
I also went to Villagio to experiment the theory of McDonalization of the other fast food restaurant that are available there. All of the restaurants, McDonalds, KFC, Hardees and Pizza Hut had the same results as the Hardees experiment.

Dehumanization in the Music Industry

“So, you’re saying a machine can do what any singer or an artist can do?” that’s what Fergie said when explained how this new device works. (picture below) “I input my voice,” he said, “high notes, my low notes, then the whole English vocabulary. What you’re able to do with that, because of this artificial intelligence, when it’s time to make a new song, I just type in the lyrics and this thing sings it, says it, raps it, talks it.” Don’t worry, that doesn’t really happen in the case of the BEP, it’s just part of the script in their infamous Imma Be Rocking That Body video. This concept from the video basically supports the Ideology theory of transhumanism, which means using technology to develop human capacity and intellectuality for a "better society". This isn’t happening. Instead, however, the excess use of technology is leading the human population to a mental throw-down, mind-control because of the absent mind of the consumer, and dehumanization.

That machine in the video is already supporting one of the dimensions of McDonaldization which is control. Just like how people lost skills in fast food chain restaurants just trying to take an order, I believe soon enough artist will lose their creativeness and talents because they will rely on a machine to do the job for them. How do we know it’s not already doing that when the music industry, full of many secrets, is doing its job behind closed doors? There are dehumanized vocals out there that can be easily detected and you can name a few artists, other than The Black Eyed Peas.
Forget Britney Spears, she’s a different case, but artists like the BEP, Ke$ha and Nicki Minaj seem to have the right package to fall under dehumanized vocals. In almost every Ke$ha song you can hear an autotune, greatest examples are her singles that reached positions in the top 10 Hot Billboard chart like “Tik Tok” and “Take It Off”. And you can’t deny Nicki Minaj’s awkward rapping style (such as in her debut single "Massive Attack") and almost expressionless face features. This is definitely part of a dehumanized image in today’s society and it seems to be increasing. What will stop it now?

“This machine will take the peas into 3008. This is the future right here.” Continued, while Fergie is still being raged and she replied “Right. So, we’re just not gonna go to the studio and not sing. Then, it takes the soul out of it.” still tries to convince the other peas. “You’re still gonna go to the studio and check out what the machine does.” While he continues to be persistent about the machine, Fergie gets up to leave and shouts “We’re not robots.” Scary, isn’t it? So, it doesn't just exist in food culture, but also in pop and music culture.

(The photos below show the album covers for the first 4 albums and then the ones released 2010).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It's Fryyy-day Fryyy-day

It's Friday, Friday. You know you love it. And apparently the world agrees. 13-year-old Rebecca Black has come out of absolutely nowhere to become the biggest YouTube sensation of the moment, demonstrating the power of social media. She's already got more hits than Lady Gaga's latest song.

I can't decide if I love this or hate it. The inane lyrics ("gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal"), the cheesy video production values, the overuse of Auto-Tune (for "singers" who can't sing in pitch), the earnest performance, and even the way Black sings the words "Friday."

Sure, it's grating and annoying, but it's also goofy and winning. It's easy to hate and hard to hate, all at the same time. To quote Black, it's fun, fun, fun, fun. Sociologically, you can go in a million directions with this. It certainly demonstrates the democratic use of the Internet, the power of social media (the song went viral in less than a week), the sexualization of young girls, the media's ongoing fascination with youth culture, cyberbullying, the infectious thrill of corny-yet-awesome pop music, the explosion of the prosumer, and the fact that industry manufactured stars like Beyonce may not be offering what people really want. Opinions are decidedly mixed, but you have to admit, this is a darn catchy song. Play it once, you'll probably play it again -- whether you want to or not.

Like all viral videos, "Friday" immediately spawned a host of parodies, covers, tributes, and other hilarious responses. This one is particularly great.

And if you hate that, there's always the super slowed-down version that sounds like some art-rock madness cooked up by Radiohead.

Or the chipmunk, fast version. Aw yeah!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Arabia’s Cultural Diffusion Through Arabian Horses

By many, the Arabian horse is said to be a treasured part of the Arabian culture and heritage. Though essentially Arabian, this breed of horse is now found in all areas of the world. Sociologically, one can say that a huge subculture of Arabian horse enthusiasts is in existence because of the cultural diffusion that has occurred. The Arabian heritage and culture is spread to all parts of the world through this horse breed thanks to this cultural diffusion. Horse shows focusing on the Arabian horse are held in many Arabian and non-Arabian countries to showcase the breed’s beauty, athleticism and extraordinary movement to a large audience. The biggest shows are the Salon du Cheval that is held in France, the Breeders World Cup that is held in Las Vegas and the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show that is held in Arizona, among others.

I attended the Qatar 20th International Horse Show and I met some of these previously mentioned enthusiasts. I noticed that because of their love for this breed, many of them have visited the whole Middle East and have made an effort to learn about the culture of the region. Some have even put their time into learning the Arabic language. Some shows also feature some sort of majlis seating area, with traditional Arabic food served to the audience and judges. Furthermore, some shows even feature a class for traditional horse and rider costumes, like the one seen in the photo below.


Even though cooperative links and division of labor are said to be in existent in art worlds, they can also be said to exist within the Arabian horse enthusiasts breeding farm and/or training facility. Just like some works of art, labor is divided to make things easier for the people doing the work. For example, there are grooms who take care of the horses, trainers used for training, veterinarians to make sure the horses are in good health etc... So even though division of labor and cooperative links are said to exist within art worlds, technically one can see that they also exist in the work place.

Valentine's Day- using Love to understand cultures!

According to her book “talk of love,” Swidler defines culture as “ the set of symbolic vehicles- including rituals, beliefs, stories, and ceremonies- through which learning and sharing take place.” I agree with her, especially after exploring the different ways counties celebrate the Valentine’s Day. I was able to understand how cultures function through people's definitions of love!

Let me start from here. As a conservative county, few people in Qatar celebrate the Valentine's Day, and from my personal experiences, I realized that Valentine’s Day in Qatar is more celebrated in hotels and private places than in the public ones.

Last Valentine’s Day for example, my best friend insisted that I go with her to the La Cigale Hotel in Qatar in order to help her pick a “special, expensive gift” for her fiancé. I still remember how it looked like when we entered the hotel; it was all covered with red flowers and hearts. Shops were selling Valentine’s cakes, chocolates, gifts, and cards all over the place.

Throughout the day, I realized that she relies mostly on the material values to describe love. In other words, through her definition of love I was able to understand her love philosophy and that is “the more you spend money on gifts, the more you love.”

Personally, I don’t like Valentine’s Day! I don’t see the point of spending a lot of money on overpriced chocolates, flowers and cards, when the best way to show your love is to be thoughtful and helpful the remaining 364 days of the year! Yet I don’t mind celebrating Valentine’s Day or even buying Valentine’s cards and gifts for someone I truly love. In sociology, this behavior is not considered as a contradiction; but instead, this is explained by how people use culture. I think the environment where I have grown up and lived my life in has a great deal in shaping the way I think about love.

In my home country, Jordan, I was a bit chocked when I knew that most of Jordanians are against the Valentine’s Day! In a city called the Ramtha for example, people don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day, and instead they call it the “Valentine’s Donkey,” as a way to express their strong disapproval and dissatisfaction about the whole idea! What is more surprising for me is the fact that in that day they actually dress a donkey with red cloths and flowers to insult whoever celebrates the Valentine’s Day.

To sum up, the most important lesson that I have learned throughout this ‘Valentine’s Day journey” is that cultural objects and cultural practices that are shared between countries mean different things to different people. In addition, the way people talk, share, and act, define love. In short, culture can be used as a reflection of people’s thoughts and behaviors.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sending Messages Through Songs

Considering the fact that we’re living in an era full of all sorts of sociological phenomena and “modern issues”, there’s clearly no doubt about the big role that music play in discussing and conducting such stories through their lyrics. While music is actually originated in Europe for the purpose of serving the people of highbrow culture, as well as being a handy tool for their producers (artists) and consumers (listeners) to express their suppressed love and affection, it has noticeably broadened to wider horizons.

Nowadays, music is played everywhere and in almost every sort of occasion. It’s not necessarily meant to be for special groups of people to enjoy it by attending elite or rock music concerts. Music now is played in weddings, birthday parties, restaurants, shops, and sometimes in public restrooms too! We even listen to music when we are turning on the radio while driving, as well as the background music in TV shows. But if we would consider the question of what role does music serve in the modern sociology of culture, the answers are pretty inspiring.

For instance, the best example would be presented by the King of Pop Michael Jackson with his major hit “Earth Song”, in which he expressed his sympathy toward the destruction that our planet is going through. Another valid example about socially conscious material in songs would be in the remade version of Michael Jackson’s song as well “We Are the World.” The remake version is a charity song that was sung by famous 21st century artists, in which the song was dedicated to the people of Haiti who suffered the horrible catastrophe. And finally the song “Just Stand Up” by famous pop and R&B artists, a charity song too to stand up against cancer disease. The collaborations of famous artists in these songs have certainly kept the messages they delivered persistent and more considerable due to the fact that they’re famous and their fans are always following their achievements (efficiency of secondary markets and product placements).

Furthermore, let’s not forget about inspirational songs that have jobs of spirit-lifting and changing one’s negative perceptions about life. Some of these songs are “Firework” by Katy Perry, “We Are Who We Are” by Ke$ha, “Raise Your Glass” by P!nk, “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga, and “Fly” by Hilary Duff. Most of these songs discuss a variety of the relevant sociological and psychological issues that people encounter at least once in their lifetimes, such as breaking down, feeling worthless, hating life, being stereotyped or looked down at, and the feeling of not being a productive member in a society. Some of these songs also talk about people who feel shy or ashamed to admit their sexuality, and these songs are the ones by Ke$ha and Lady Gaga.