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The idea of ‘fakelore’ came to the fore in the 1960's when academic folklorists, primarily in America, began to take note of occasions where traditions were being invented or appropriated either for direct commercial gain (e.g. the rise of commercial ‘folk singers’ or the branding of mass market foods), tourism (e.g. the creation of ‘wishing wells’, or the appointment of‘town criers’), social control (see Merrie England), nationalism, political legitimization, or simply to satisfy an apparent societal need for a definable but safe heritage. The term was rapidly extended to cover the creation and fostering of a false picture of the traditional culture, usually by culturally dominant groups, most clearly enunciated in the field of ‘folk-song’, but also in other genres. European scholars have tended to use the related term ‘folklorism’.

The term is sometimes inappropriately applied to the use of folklore motifs by political cartoonists, advertisers, and others with a message to convey. By its very nature, ‘folklore’ is a shared system of symbols and meanings, and traditional motifs can therefore serve to set a scene or carry a meaning that native readers/viewers will immediately understand, although outsiders will be baffled.

See alsoMERRIE ENGLAND, REVIVAL, TOURIST LOREVenetia Newall, Folklore 98:2 (1987), 131–51; Violet Alford, Folklore 72 (1961), 599–61); Dave Harker, Fakesong: The Manufacture of British Folksong, 1700 to the Present Day (1985); G. Legman, The Horn Book (1964), esp. 494–521.

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