Folk culture refers to the localized lifestyle of a culture. It is usually handed down through oral tradition, relates to a sense of community, and demonstrates the "old ways" over novelty. Folk culture is quite often imbued with a sense of place. If its elements are copied by, or removed to, a foreign locale, they will still carry strong connotations of their original place of creation.
Examples of American folk cultures include:
- Baptist choral works
- Bluegrass music
- The cakewalk
- Louisiana Creole cuisine, music, and language
- Dixieland jazz
- Handmade quilts
- The islands of Hawaii maintain a traditional culture including the hula, leis, a pantheon of nature gods, and the concept of aloha
- Pative tribal regalia
- Shaker architecture and furniture
- Some Alaskan tribes still hunt whales with traditional spiritual rites
- Wild rice is still gathered by hand in the traditional manner in the United States' northwoods
The above items have entered mainstream consciousness to varying degrees, but none of them have been so distorted from their original form as to have lost their culturally specific sense of place. Blue jeans and McDonald's are cultural icons which have, in contrast, been made so international that they have lost their original sense of place; they are no longer considered folk culture. Similarly, Federalist architecture was created in the United States, but in a style influenced by, and meant to appeal to, outside interests. It is the emphasis on looking inward without reference to the outside that separates folk culture from pop culture.
However, folk culture has always informed pop culture and even high culture. The minuet dance of European court society was based on the dance of peasants. Similarly, the European courtly rage for pastoral romance was based on an idealized vision of shepherds' lives. More recently, the consciously self-centered culture of the Amish has been portrayed for comic value in Hollywood films and big media reality shows, and the archetypal costume of the cowboy has been reinvented in gleaming silver by disco dancers and strippers.
- Blue collar
- Folk music
- Folk costumes, such as the bunad
- Intangible Cultural Heritage
- Lower class
- Vernacular culture