Hip-Hop Music and Popular Culture Theories

Popular culture consists of habits, beliefs, and items representing society’s most common values. Popular culture is distinct from high culture and numerous institutional cultures (political culture, educational culture, legal culture, etc.) (Storey, 2018). With the relationship between mass culture and popular culture, it becomes necessary to consider popular culture’s role within capitalism’s economic production method. Popular culture is regarded as a series of commodities generated through capitalistic processes driven by the profit motive and sold to consumers. Subcultures like youth cultures or ethnic cultures, on the other hand, tend to be overlooked when popular culture and folk culture are combined. This paper aims to evaluate popular culture theories represented in hip-hop music, including culture from the perspective of functionalism to fully cover the studied issue.

Cultural production as a means of social reproduction and the degree to which audiences can determine the meanings of the consumed culture are all important topics in the sociological study of popular culture (Daly, 2021). Through this subcultural prism, popular culture is a series of artistic or other forms of culture-making processes that result in performances and artifacts that are received and interpreted by audiences both inside and outside of the subcultural group. Holistic approaches examine how the market system hijacks a subculture’s collective creations to form popular culture. Functionalists see social systems as interdependent pieces that all work together to produce society as a whole or function. They frequently use the human body as a metaphor. Looking at life this way, culture is necessary for society to thrive. People’s decisions are guided by cultural norms and values, which aid in the smooth running of society. Culture, like society, exists to meet the needs of its members.

Cultural values are another important concept for functionalists to consider when examining a culture. For example, education is a highly prized commodity in the United States. When it comes to education, society places a lot of importance on the material and intangible aspects of the subject matter, including the use of educational equipment and textbooks as well as specialized teaching techniques (O’Malley, 2020). As a result, if education were limited to simply delivering instructions and giving study material, it would indicate that the culture places less importance on education. According to functionalists, distinct cultural categories serve multiple purposes. There are many benefits to being a member of any culture or subculture, such as bringing together people who share a common interest and fostering a sense of belonging. As a result of these power differentials, conflict theorists believe that the social structure is intrinsically uneven.

Conflict theorists consider established educational techniques as supporting the dominant social culture and privilege concerns. History texts tend to omit the perspectives of marginalized groups, such as racial, gendered, or classed minorities, or narratives that show the dominant culture in a negative light. As part of the colonization of the region that would become the United States, Native American people and society were subjected to systematic oppression and enslavement (Back, 2020). Race riots and race-based atrocities like the Tulsa Massacre, extensively recorded in 1921 but excluded from many national history reports, are recent examples. Many people were surprised to learn about and discuss the event after an episode of HBO’s Watchmen depicted it in amazing and frightening detail (Ware 2019). American North Korean students are not the only ones who are not taught the truth about their leader’s treatment of the majority of the populace throughout his time in power. Famines and dreadful economic conditions are obvious in North Korea. Still, defectors and experts on the nation say that the state media and education departments are working to keep the population unaware of how their country is unique (Béat, 2019). There are inherent injustices in a culture’s value system, laws, rules, and practices. By including the powerless, the powerful can subjugate them. Some people profit from the cultural norms of a society, while others are harmed.

Laws that safeguarded the rights of both women and men were difficult to pass in the United States until the 1920s since women were not allowed to vote until that time. Until 2015, same-sex couples were not allowed to get married in the United States. Only 31 of the world’s 195 countries recognize same-sex marriage (Storey, 2018). Economic production and materialism are at the heart of conflict theory. Rich countries rely heavily on technology, whereas developing countries lack access to technology and education. They believe that a society’s economic structure directly impacts its culture, according to conflict theorists.

Cultural changes are more difficult for those who lack power. The functionalist point of view is in direct opposition to this one (Béat, 2019). To put it another way: Rather than looking at culture as a tool to help individuals and societies function smoothly, conflict theorists focus on sociocultural conflicts, such as how some people gain power and privilege through the use and reinforcement of dominant cultures that keep them in their positions of power in companies.

In Hip hop studies, Gail Hilson Woldu focuses on the role that cultural theory, urban history, and African American feminism have played in the study of hip hop over the past few decades. The “traditional black sound” and the ability of the rap industry to be a good source for an alternative are important topics in cultural theory within hip hop studies, in particular, Houston Baker’s Black Studies, Rap, and Academy. Hip hop as an idea and its impact on society can be better understood through cultural theory. Various historical movements and creations have shaped hip hop’s history as the scene has grown and evolved. There is, admittedly, much more to hip hop’s roots than just this one event. When it comes to hip-hop culture, one of the most troublesome aspects is the influence of the black feminist movement. Some female rappers responded to the overlapping misogynistic elements in hip-hop as the gender disparity grew more apparent. Rather than focusing on black culture and rap music, Gwendolyn Pough examines how black women’s contributions to the music industry have taken center stage (Béat, 2019). Black women engaged in hip-hop culture ‘bring wreck’—when their discourses disturb dominant male discourses, pervade public space, and influence the fictional United States.

As hip-hop culture grew and expanded, so did the academic field that society emphasized as a vital and influential component of the culture. These features have largely molded hip-culture hop’s identity (O’Malley, 2020). Studies on hip hop have evolved over time, and many now consider it a multidisciplinary field that includes anthropology, communication studies, religions and religions and culture, critical race theory, and musicological studies.

Symbolic interactionism is a sociological perspective mainly concerned with face-to-face interactions and cultural meanings between members of society. This type of analysis is known as a micro-level one. Interactionists see culture as being generated and sustained by how people interact and how each individual interprets the actions of others rather than by the differences in attitudes between the rich and the poor. People’s cultural practices are preserved when viewed from this angle. Theorists that subscribe to this view see a human connection as an ongoing process of obtaining meaning from the things around us and other people’s behaviors.

Humans use language to represent and transmit their perceptions of the symbolic meanings of all objects and actions. In the minds of symbolic interactionists, culture is a fluid and ever-changing entity heavily dependent on how meaning is perceived and communicated by individuals working together (Storey, 2018). Changes in the language are the focus of interactionists. It is their goal to learn about the creation and destruction of words and the shifts in meaning that occur when words are borrowed from one language to another.

The culture Includes the way individuals think and express themselves, which is why culture is learned rather than born. While we may prefer to think of ourselves as individuals, we must recognize the influence of culture on our lives. We acquire a lingua franca that affects how we see the world, interact with others, and even think about religion and politics. Social coziness is at least in part provided through culture. Societies are defined by their ability to share a common cultural heritage (Back, 2020). Nations would cease to exist if people did not have a common cultural heritage. Citizens who do not share a common culture and language cannot form societies, while those who disagree on core beliefs and social norms are doomed to failure. In Western and Eastern Europe, residents of large cities, towns, and areas with high urban density often see rural and isolated areas as less valuable from an economic and sociocultural perspective. According to this preconception, rural/remote people live in an environment that is too conventional, old-fashioned, or antiquated to have any significance to the global network of large/capital cities, their rituals and cultural practices are also outdated. Rural people are not interested in metropolitan concerns.

On the other hand, many rural and isolated residents are heavily influenced by what is generally considered an essentially metropolitan form of contemporary culture. There is no better illustration of urban disparities than in global music cultures like hip-hop (Daly, 2021). This research is interested in finding out that hip-hop thrives in rural and regional places where it is portrayed as urban and makes a living from trans-global and regional music production. Furthermore, these regions often establish practices tied to local, regional, national, and worldwide cultural and geographic contexts. Though influenced by metropolitan sounds, the music in this region has evolved in ways unique to the rural/regional context.

In the late 1800s, the evolutionary hypothesis of societal change began to gain a following. Using Darwin’s theory of evolution, sociologists have applied it to society. The “Father of Sociology,” Auguste Comte, held to the evolutionary concept. This idea’s underlying premise is a “higher level” of civilization—social systems progress similarly to biological ones. Fast-moving competitors will overtake those that fail to do so swiftly enough (Back, 2020). Many sociologists have concluded that Western civilizations must be “superior” because of their “advanced” status. Initially, social evolutionists maintained that all societies had to undergo the same change process. Multilinear change is a modern theory. Businesses can grow in many different ways (Storey, 2018). This hypothesis holds that society is a lot like a human body. Each portion is like a separate organ. A single component can’t sustain itself.

A major figure in social sciences, Emile Durkheim, believed in the importance of harmony in society’s different sectors. Social life is a “sandbox” that is easily destabilized when people don’t join as one. When one part is harmed, the rest of the system has to adapt. Why? Functionalists believe that society is always on the road to stability. Some issues need to be addressed every now and again, even if they are only temporary. To put it another way, this indicates a shift in society’s dynamics.

Even functionalism has its detractors. People say that this theory overlooks the fact that society’s elite frequently provide an appearance of peace and stability. Race, class, and gender are also ignored by the theory. Following its heyday from 1945 to 1950, functionalism began to fade around 1960 (Daly, 2021). As a result of conflicts, society is said to be intrinsically unequal. As a result of this thesis, Karl Marx came to be known. In spite of Marx’s skepticism about the evolutionary model, he held some faith in it. When the wealthy and powerful govern the rest of society, they often do so through abusing weaker populations. Because of this, there will be strife. The end outcome is societal change. Conflict models have changed over time. Feminist theory, queer theory, and critical race theory all include it.

The goal of this project is to bring about a major shift in the views of urban dwellers regarding rural/regional people. Throughout addition, the initiative will help raise awareness of rural/regional hip-hop culture in Western and Eastern Europe and beyond, while also fostering a better understanding of urban and rural life through the medium of hip-hop music. As a result of this shared understanding, we may develop a progressive suburban and trans-rural approach to musical processes and production that speaks to the shifting demands of the global community.

Transmission of culture is important, but so is the process of cultural creativity, discovery, and dissemination, which all take place in the course of a lifetime. It’s important to remember that cultures are created by people for other people to enjoy.

An item or concept becomes part of the culture if the company gives approval or disapproval for it. Even though people may be constrained by their own cultural norms, they have the ability to evaluate values and make educated decisions. There is no better evidence of this independence than the plethora of cultural diversity around the globe. In studying other cultures, it is possible gain a deeper understanding of one’s own. To define, explain, and evaluate the social problem, pick one of three sociological approaches: functionalism, conflict theory, or symbolic interactionism and determine what motivated the decision to proceed in the chosen manner. When it comes to the study of culture, there are three primary schools of thought.

In conclusion, according to a functionalist view, society’s demands can be met by a variety of cultural components working in concert. Functionalism views culture as an expression of society’s beliefs and norms. Gender, class, color, and age are just a few of the inequalities that conflict theorists point out in society. Interactionists are concerned in culture as it is experienced through the everyday interactions between individuals and the symbols that constitute culture. Many cultural and sociological events can be described by these theories, but there is no single position to comprehend culture.


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Daly, S. E. (2021). Theories of crime through popular culture. Palgrave Macmillan, Springer Nature Switzerland.

O’Malley, M. P. (2020). Public pedagogy theories, methodologies, and ethics. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education.

Storey, J. (2018). Cultural theory and popular culture (8th Edition ed.). London: Routledge.

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