The demonstration of taste, discrimination, and sophistication derived from and contributing to the cultural capital of an elite as distinct from the ‘mere entertainment’ values associated with popular (mass) culture, commercial commodification and uncritical consumption. A polarizing term, originating in the mid 19th century, explicitly linked to class distinctions.
However, Adorno and Horkheimer from the Frankfurt school offer a Marxist perspective in which high culture is a context within which dominant ideologies can be challenged.
Chandler, Daniel–Munday, Rod (2011): A Dictionary of Media and Communication. Oxford University Press. Oxford. 38. p., 188. p. See the Online Edition