A quarterly specialized journal
The Message Of Folklore from Bahrain To The World

Folk culture: System, function and discours

Issue 28
Folk culture: System, function and discours

Culture in general, and folk culture in particular, cannot be studied without taking complex interrelated questions into consideration. The cultural is influenced by the historical and political, because culture is collective by nature. Because culture is collective and multi-dimensional, I used a combined approach in this study.


In the humanities, there are several subjects that cannot be analysed easily because they pose problems in terms of definition, approach and terminology. Folk culture is one such subject, because the concept of folk culture is very broad, and it is wider than mass culture. A number of knowledge-based fields – including sociology, history, phonetics, psychoanalysis and literary studies – have included the analysis and evaluation of folk culture and studied its connection to mass culture. Each of these fields has its own definition of folk culture, including the constructural, semiotic, feminist, Marxist, and the post modern.

  Important issues:
Folk culture involves two layers of culture – the standard, celebrated level of culture and the culture of the layman in a particular society – and the issue of identity.

Folk culture cannot be analysed without taking into consideration the researcher’s cultural background. Just as man cannot think about the mind without using the mind, he can only observe culture through a lens shaped by his own culture. Culture is both the process and the subject of study.

The understanding of folk culture is based on approved models; Francophone literature sometimes defines folk culture as the culture of the workingman, mass culture, the culture of nomads, or simply a culture based on folk traditions. On the other hand, the Anglophonic references view folk culture as a modern phenomenon – urban or suburban culture – because it stems from social movements and is associated with America’s shift to mass manufacturing and the developments and changes that occurred after World Wars I and II. However, in many cases, the concept of folk culture is broadened to include both definitions.


Said Araq

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