Differences Between Popular Culture and Folk Culture

Popular culture is typically part of a large, heterogeneous society where everyone shares specific habits. It is a place where change is often embraced as everyone pushes toward best practices and affordable solutions. It is an approach where differences tend to be celebrated so that diverse perspectives become part of the conversation.

Folk culture represents traditions that get practiced by small groups of people. Although they often live in isolated or rural areas, it can also be found in tight-knit urban communities.

Changes happen within this community slowly, and differences are often avoided instead of being celebrated.

Let’s dig down a little deeper into popular culture and folk culture.

Economic Considerations of Popular and Folk Culture

Popular culture usually focuses on economic development from a cost-basis standpoint. The goal is to create products and services that work quickly while being affordable to the average household. An example of this approach would be the quick-service restaurant industry.

Folk culture takes an individualized approach to its economic considerations. Each household is responsible for themselves – and sometimes their neighbor. If resources are available after these core needs get met, then the rest of the community can benefit afterward. Instead of going to a restaurant, these families would work gardens and tend fields.

Diffusion Considerations of Popular Culture and Folk Culture

Popular cultures are a generalized approach to living. If we were to use the United States as an example, folk culture would apply to cities within a specific state, while pop culture would come from a state-based or national perspective. You must call yourself a Californian and say you’re from San Francisco, but you’d have something in common with a New Yorker because you’re both Americans. 

Folk cultures typically stay within the same region over multiple generations. This approach to living creates a unique perspective on life that isn’t shared by the rest of the world in the same way. Although some people may come and go from this place, their roots will continue to call the societal origination area home.

Environmental considerations also show the differences between popular culture and folk culture. Populism wants to produce as much as possible without regard to local ecosystems, whereas folk cultures look for ways to maintain local habitats.

Most people today fit into a mixture of pop and folk culture. That diversity allows us to find common ground as humans while we celebrate our differences in positive and healthy ways.