The term popular culture refers to the vernacular culture that prevails in any given society. It is determined by the needs, desires, and cultural moments that make up the lives of the people. It may pertain to any number of things, including clothing, entertainment, and mass media.
The basis of modern popular culture came from the massive urbanization in the late 18th century. Increased literacy, improved public health and developing technology all played vital roles in the creation of popular culture, as we know it today.
In today’s mass societies, popular culture has been further shaped by mass production, mass media and the news media. Items of popular culture generally appeal to a wide variety of people. Because of this, some argue that, companies that produce and sell items of popular culture, attempt to maximize their profits by emphasizing broadly appealing items. The exception to this is the music industry, which cannot impose any product it wishes. Many types of popular music have started in small cultural circles.
Being so widely available, popular culture has been under much criticism. One opinion is that popular culture tends to be quite superficial. Cultural items that require experience, training, or reflection to be appreciated, seldom become items of popular culture. Another claim is that popular culture is rooted more in sensationalism than reality. Facts may be modified during popular transmission, sometimes to the point of outright falsehood. When this happens, they become urban legends, and may have no factual basis at all.
Popular culture items are widely available on the Internet. Websites and auction sites offer classic items, to collectors, from past decades. Refridgerator magnets, lunchboxes, posters and vintage clothing are just some of the many items available for purchase.