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What is true is that in the s one of the key periods of Americanizationfor many young people in Britain, American culture represented a force of liberation against the grey certain- ties of British everyday life.
What is also clear is that the fear of Americanization is closely related to a distrust regardless of national origin of emerging forms of popu- lar culture.
As with the mass culture perspective generally, there are political left and political right versions of the argument.
There is what we might call a benign version of the mass culture perspective. The texts and practices of popular culture are seen as forms of public fantasy.
Popular cul- ture is understood as a collective dream world. In this sense, cultural practices such as Christmas and the seaside holiday, it could be argued, function in much the same way as dreams: they articulate, in a disguised form, collective but repressed wishes and desires. Structuralism, although not usually placed within the mass culture perspective, and certainly not sharing its moralistic approach, nevertheless sees popular culture as a sort of ideological machine which more or less effortlessly reproduces the prevailing struc- tures of power.
There is little space for reader activity or textual contradiction. Chapter 6 will consider these issues in some detail. This is popular culture as folk culture: a culture of the people for the people. No matter how much we might insist on this definition, the fact remains that people do not spontaneously produce culture from raw materials of their own making. Whatever popular culture is, what is certain is that its raw materials are those which are commercially provided.
Critical analysis of pop and rock music is particularly replete with this kind of analysis of popular culture. At a con- ference I once attended, a contribution from the floor suggested that Levi jeans would never be able to use a song from The Jam to sell its products.
The fact that they had already used a song by The Clash would not shake this conviction. As this was not going to happen, Levi jeans would never use a song by The Jam to sell its products. But this had already happened to The Clash, a band with equally sound political credentials. This circular exchange stalled to a stop. The cultural studies use of the concept of hegemony would have, at the very least, fuelled further discussion see Chapter 4.
A fifth definition of popular culture, then, is one that draws on the political ana- lysis of the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, particularly on his development of the concept of hegemony.
This will be dis- cussed in some detail in Chapter 4. The process is historical labelled popular culture one moment, and another kind of culture the nextbut it is also synchronic moving between resistance and incorporation at any given historical moment.
For instance, the seaside holiday began as an aristocratic event and within a hundred years it had become an example of popular culture. Film noir started as despised popular cinema and within thirty years had become art cinema. In general terms, those looking at popular culture from the perspective of hegemony theory tend to see it as a terrain of ideological struggle between dominant and subordinate classes, dominant and subordinate cultures.
As Bennett explains, The field of popular culture is structured by the attempt of the ruling class to win hegemony and by forms of opposition to this endeavour. Popular culture 11 The compromise equilibrium of hegemony can also be employed to analyse differ- ent types of conflict within and across popular culture.
The Conservative Party political broadcast, discussed earlier, reveals this process in action. What was being attempted was the disarticulation of socialism as a political movement concerned with economic, social and political emancipation, in favour of its articulation as a political movement concerned to impose restraints on individual freedom.
Also, as we shall see in Chapter 7, feminism has always recognized the importance of cultural struggle within the contested landscape of popular culture. Feminist presses have published science fiction, detective fiction and romance fiction. Such cultural interventions rep- resent an attempt to articulate popular genres for feminist politics. It is also possible, using hegemony theory, to locate the struggle between resistance and incorporation as taking place within and across individual popular texts and practices.
Thus a text is made up of a contradictory mix of different cultural forces. How these elements are articulated will depend in part on the social cir- cumstances and historical conditions of production and consumption. David Morley has modified the model to take into account discourse and subjectivity: seeing reading as always an interaction between the discourses of the text and the discourses of the reader.
There is another aspect of popular culture that is suggested by hegemony theory. This is of course to make popular culture a profoundly political concept. Popular culture is a site where the construction of everyday life may be examined. The point of doing this is not only academic — that is, as an attempt to understand a process or practice — it is also political, to examine the power relations that con- stitute this form of everyday life and thus reveal the configurations of interests its construction serves Turner, 6.
Fiske argues, as does Paul Willis from a slightly different perspective also discussed in Chapter 10that popular culture is what people make from the products of the culture industries — mass culture is the repertoire, popular culture is what people actively make from it, actually do with the commodities and commodified practices they consume. A sixth definition of popular culture is one informed by recent thinking around the debate on postmodernism.
This will be the subject of Chapter 9. All I want to do now is to draw attention to some of the basic points in the debate about the relationship between postmodernism and popular culture. The main point to insist on here is the claim that postmodern culture is a culture that no longer recognizes the distinction between high and popular culture.
As we shall see, for some this is a reason to celebrate an end to an elitism constructed on arbitrary distinctions of culture; for others it is a reason to despair at the final victory of commerce over culture. For example, there is a growing list of artists who have had hit records as a result of their songs appearing in television com- mercials. Moreover, it is now possible to buy CDs that consist of the songs that have become successful, or have become successful again, as a result of being used in advertisements.
There is a wonderful circularity to this: songs are used to sell products and the fact that they do this successfully is then used to sell the songs. Those on the political right might worry about what it is doing to the status of real culture. This has resulted in a sus- tained debate in cultural studies.
The significance of popular culture is central to this debate. This, and other questions, will be explored in Chapter 9. This of course makes Britain the first country to produce popular culture defined in this historically restricted way. There are other ways to define popular culture, which do not depend on this particular history or these particu- lar circumstances, but they are definitions that fall outside the range of the cultural theorists and the cultural theory discussed in this book.
The argument, which under- pins this particular periodization of popular culture, is that the experience of industri- alization and urbanization changed fundamentally the cultural relations within the landscape of popular culture.
Before industrialization and urbanization, Britain had two cultures: a common culture which was shared, more or less, by all classes, and a separate elite culture produced and consumed by the dominant classes in society see Burke, ; Storey, As a result of industrialization and urbanization, three things happened, which together had the effect of redrawing the cultural map. First of all, industrialization changed the relations between employees and employers. Second, urbanization produced a residential separation of classes.
For the first time in British history there were whole sections of towns and cities inhabited only by working men and women. Third, the panic engendered by the French Revolution — the fear that it might be imported into Britain — encouraged successive governments to enact a variety of repressive measures aimed at defeating radicalism.
Political radical- ism and trade unionism were not destroyed, but driven underground to organize beyond the influence of middle-class interference and control. These three factors combined to produce a cultural space outside of the paternalist considerations of the earlier common culture. The result was the production of a cultural space for the generation of a popular culture more or less outside the controlling influence of the dominant classes.
How this space was filled was a subject of some controversy for the founding fathers of culturalism see Chapter 3. A great deal of the difficulty arises from the absent other which always haunts any definition we might use. It is never enough to speak of popular culture; we have always to acknowledge that with which it is being contrasted. Most of the time and for most people it simply is culture. This of course makes an understanding of the range of ways of theorizing popular culture all the more important.
This book, then, is about the theorizing that has brought us to our present state of thinking on popular culture. It is about how the changing terrain of popular culture has been explored and mapped by different cultural theorists and different theoretical approaches.
It is upon their shoulders that we stand when we think critically about popular culture. The aim of this book is to introduce readers to the different ways in which popular culture has been analysed and the different popular cultures that have been articulated as a result of the process of analysis. For it must be remembered that popular culture is not a historically fixed set of popular texts and practices, nor is it a historically fixed conceptual category. The object under theoretical scrutiny is both his- torically variable, and always in part constructed by the very act of theoretical engage- ment.
This is further complicated by the fact that different theoretical perspectives have tended to focus on particular areas of the popular cultural landscape. The most com- mon division is between the study of texts popular fiction, television, pop music, etc. The aim of this book, therefore, is to provide readers with a map of the terrain to enable them to begin their own explorations, to begin their own map- ping of the main theoretical and political debates that have characterized the study of popular culture.
Further reading Storey, John ed. This is the companion volume to this book. It contains examples of most of the work discussed here. This book and the companion Reader are supported by an interactive website www. The website has links to other useful sites and electronic resources. As the title implies, this is a book about cultural studies written from a perspective sympathetic to the Frankfurt School.
Further reading 15 Allen, Robert C. Although this collection is specifically focused on television, it contains some excel- lent essays of general interest to the student of popular culture.
An interesting collection of essays, covering both theory and analysis. A brilliant glossary of the key terms in cultural theory. Day, Gary ed. A mixed col- lection of essays, some interesting and useful, others too unsure about how seriously to take popular culture.
An excellent introduc- tion to some of the key issues in cultural studies. A collection of essays analysing different examples of popular culture.
A clear pre- sentation of his particular approach to the study of popular culture. The book traces the debate between high and popular culture, with particular, but not exclusive, reference to the Australian experience, from the eigh- teenth century to the present day.
A useful introduction to contemporary cultural theory. A collection of essays, with an informed and interesting introduction. The book is helpfully divided into sections on different approaches to popular culture: historical, anthropological, sociological and cultural.
A useful and interesting collection of essays on cultural theory and popular culture. An historical account of the concept of popular culture. A clear and comprehensive introduction to theories of popular culture. An excellent introduction to the study of popular media culture. Still the best introduction to British cultural studies.
Another excellent introduction to cultural studies: useful, informative and funny. In the nineteenth century, however, there is a fundamental change in this relationship. Those with power lose, for a crucial period, the means to control the culture of the sub- ordinate classes. When they begin to recover control, it is culture itself, and not culture as a symptom or sign of something else, that becomes, really for the first time, the actual focus of concern.
As we noted at the end of Chapter 1, two factors are crucial to an understanding of these changes: industrialization and urbanization. Together they produce other changes that contribute to the making of a popular culture that marks a decisive break with the cultural relationships of the past.
If we take early nineteenth-century Manchester as our example of the new industrial urban civilization, certain points become clear. First of all, the town evolved clear lines of class segregation; second, residential separation was compounded by the new work relations of industrial capitalism. Third, on the basis of changes in living and working relations, there developed cultural changes.
Put very simply, the Manchester working class was given space to develop an independent culture at some remove from the direct intervention of the dominant classes. Industrialization and urbanization had redrawn the cultural map. No longer was there a shared common culture, with an addi- tional culture of the powerful. Now, for the first time in history, there was a separate culture of the subordinate classes of the urban and industrial centres.
It was a culture of two main sources: i a culture offered for profit by the new cultural entrepreneurs, and ii a culture made by and for the political agitation of radical artisans, the new urban working class and middle-class reformers, all described so well by E. Each of these developments in different ways threatened traditional notions of cultural cohesion and social stability. One threatened to weaken authority through the commercial disman- tling of cultural cohesion; the other offered a direct challenge to all forms of political and cultural authority.
These were not developments guaranteed to hearten those who feared for the con- tinuation of a social order based on power and privilege. It is out of this context, and its continuing aftermath, which the political study of popular culture first emerges. Matthew Arnold The study of popular culture in the modern age can be said to begin with the work of Matthew Arnold.
In some ways this is surprising as he had very little to say directly about popular culture. Arnold established a cultural agenda that remained dominant in debate from the s until the s. His significance, therefore, lies not with any body of empirical work, but with the enormous influence of his general perspective — the Arnoldian perspective — on popular culture. For Arnoldculture begins by meaning two things. In other words, culture is the endeavour to know the best and to make this knowledge prevail for the good of all humankind.
But how is culture to be attained? Culture, therefore, no longer consists in two things, but in three. Popular culture is never actually defined. The upshot of this is that anarchy and culture are for Arnold deeply political concepts. Again: the working class. The context of all this is the suffrage agitation of —7. His division of society into Barbarians aristocracyPhilistines middle class and Populace working class would seem at first sight to defuse the class nature of this discourse.
However, if we examine what Arnold means by a common basis, we are forced to a different conclusion. If we ima- gine the human race existing on an evolutionary continuum with itself at one end and a common ancestor shared with the ape at the other, what Arnold seems to be suggesting is that the aristocracy and middle class are further along the evolutionary continuum than the working class. This is shown quite clearly in his example of the common Intro - Vigilance (2) - Behind The Mask (CD of our human nature.
He claims that every time that we snatch up a vehement opinion in ignorance and passion, every time that we long to crush an adversary by sheer violence, every time that we are envious, every time that we are brutal, every time that we adore mere power or suc- cess, every time that we add our voice to swell a blind clamour against some unpopular personage, every time that we trample savagely on the fallen [we have] found in our own bosom the eternal spirit of the Populace First, it must carefully guide the aristocracy and the middle class from such circumstances.
The principle of authority, as we shall see, is to be found in a strong centralized State. Why did Arnold think like this? The answer has a great deal to do with the histor- ical changes witnessed by the nineteenth century. On the other, they are recognition of a historical process that had been in play from at least the eighteenth century the development of industrial capitalism.
Arnold believed that the franchise had given power to men as yet uneducated for power. It is the function of education to restore a sense of sub- ordination and deference to the class. In short, culture would remove popular culture. Two factors make the State necessary.
First, the decline of the aristocracy as a centre of authority; second, the rise of democracy. Together they create a terrain favourable to anarchy.
The solution is to occupy this ter- rain with a mixture of culture and coercion. It is, therefore, worth looking briefly at his vision of education. Arnold does not envis- age working-class, middle-class and aristocratic students all walking down the same road to culture. For the aristocracy, education is to accustom it to decline, to banish it as a class to history.
For the working class, education is to civilize it for subordination, deference and exploitation. According to Arnold, working-class children had to be civilized before they could be instructed. For the middle class, education was something quite different. Its essential function is to prepare middle-class children for the power that is to be theirs. What it amounts to is a revolution from above, a revolution to prevent popular revolution from below.
It works on the principle that a reform given is always better than a reform taken, forced or won. Popular demands are met, but in such a way as to weaken claims for further demands. It is not that Arnold did not desire a better society, one with less squalor, less poverty, less ignor- ance, etc. Most of what I have said is a roundabout way of saying that the first grand theorist of popular culture had in fact very little to say about popular culture, except, that is, to say that it is symptomatic of a profound political disorder.
Working-class culture is significant to the extent that it signals evidence of social and cultural disorder and decline — a break- down in social and cultural authority. The fact that working-class culture exists at all is evidence enough of decline and disorder. One writer in particular seems especially relevant, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It is the function of the cultiv- ated clerisy to guide the progress of civilization: the objects and final intention of the whole order being these — preserve the stores, and to guard the treasures, of past civilisation, and thus to bind the present to the past; to perfect and add to the same, and thus to connect the present with the future; but especially to diffuse through the whole community, and to every native entitled to its laws and rights, that quantity and quality of knowledge which was indispensable both for understanding of those rights, and for the performance of the duties correspondent But the purpose is essentially the same: the mobilization of culture to police the unruly forces of mass society.
Such a reading of history is hardly likely to inspire much confidence in democracy — let alone in popular culture. All that is required from the rest of us is to recognize our cultural differ- ence and acknowledge our cultural deference. Arnold is clear on this point: The mass of mankind will never have any ardent zeal for seeing things as they are; very inadequate ideas will always satisfy them. On these inadequate ideas reposes, and must repose, the general practice of the world.
Intro - Vigilance (2) - Behind The Mask (CD is as much as saying that whoever sets himself to see things as they are will find himself one of a very small circle; but it is only by this small circle resolutely doing its own work that adequate ideas will ever get current at all —5.
And again, The highly instructed few, and not the scantily instructed many, will ever be the organ to the human race of knowledge and truth. Knowledge and truth in the full sense of the words, are not attainable by the great mass of the human race at all Arnold, — These are very revealing statements.
If the mass of humankind is to be always satis- fied with inadequate ideas, never able to attain truth and knowledge, for whom are the small circle working?
And what of the adequate ideas they will make current — current for whom? For other small circles of elites? However, Arnold does not so much reject practical politics, as leave them in the safe hands of established authority. Therefore, the only politics that are being rejected are the politics of protest, the politics of opposition.
This is a very stale defence of the dominant order. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, his influence has been enormous in that the Arnoldian perspective virtually mapped out the way of thinking about popular culture and cultural politics that dominated the field until the late ls. Leavisism For Matthew Arnold it was in some ways less difficult.
I am thinking of the so much more desperate plight of culture today Leavis, The influence of Arnold on F. Leavis is there for all to see. The work of Leavisism spans a period of some forty years. However, the Leavisite attitude to popular culture was formed in the early s with the publication of three texts: Mass Civilisation and Minority Culture, by F.
Leavis, Fiction and the Reading Public, by Q. Leavis and Culture and Environment, by F. Leavis and Denys Thompson. Together these form the basis of the Leavisite response to popular culture. Upon them depend the implicit standards that order the finer living of an age, the sense that this is worth more than that, this rather than that is the direction in which to go, that the centre is here rather than there 5.
What has changed is the status of this minority. No longer can it command cultural deference, no longer is its cultural authority unchallenged. Up to the present time, in all parts of the world, the masses of uneducated or semieducated persons, who form the vast majority of readers, though they cannot and do not appreciate the classics of their race, have been content to acknowledge their traditional supremacy.
Of late there have seemed to me to be certain signs, especially in America, of a revolt of the mob against our literary masters. If literature is to be judged by a plebiscite and if the plebs recognises its power, it will certainly by degrees cease to support reputations which give it no pleasure and which it cannot comprehend. The revolution against taste, once begun, will land us in irreparable chaos The institutional home of these developments was, especially in the s and early s, the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, at the University of Birmingham see Green, Dividing the book in this way in itself speaks volumes about the perspective taken and the conclusions expected.
On the other, we have the cultural decline of the s. His evidence for the cul- tural decline represented by the popular culture of the s is material gathered as a university lecturer and researcher. This is a significant and informing distinction.
According to Hoggart, working class people have traditionally, or at least for several generations, regarded art as escape, as something enjoyed but not assumed to have much connexion with the matter of daily life.
Art is for you to use The new mass entertainment of the s is said to undermine this aesthetic: Most mass entertainments are in the end what D. They are full of a corrupt brightness, of improper appeals and moral evasions. They assist a gradual drying up of the more positive, the fuller, the more cooperative kinds of enjoyment, in which one gains much by giving much This is a culture that is by and large made by the people.
Then on to a substantial lunch on arrival, and after that a fanning out in groups. But rarely far from one another, because they know their part of the town and their bit of beach, where they feel at home. Then there is the buying of presents for the family, a big meat tea, and the journey home with a stop for drinks on the way.
This is a popular culture that is communal and self-made. The first half of The Uses of Literacy consists mostly of examples of communal and self-made entertainment. The analysis is often in considerable advance of Leavisism. The idea of an audience appropriating for its own purposes — on its own terms — the commodities offered to it by the culture industries is never fully explored.
But the idea is there in Hoggart; again indicating the underexploited sophistication of parts of The Uses of Literacy — too often dismissed as a rather unacademic, and nostalgic, semi- autobiography. The real weakness of the book is its inability to carry forward the insights from its treatment of the popular culture of the s into its treatment of the so-called mass culture of the s. It is possible that he is right about the s, whilst being wrong about the s.
The popular aesthetic, so important for an understanding of the working- class pleasure on show in the s, is now forgotten in the rush to condemn the popular culture of the s. What has happened to the intrinsic significance of the everyday? Instead of talk of a popular aesthetic, we are invited on a tour of the manipulative power of the culture industries. The popular culture of the s, as described by Hoggart, no longer offers the possibility of a full rich life; everything is now far too thin and insipid.
It is a condition to which the young are particularly vulnerable. But such supposedly mindless hedonism, fed by thin and insipid fare, leads only to debili- tating excess. The strongest argument against modern mass enter- tainments is not that they debase taste — debasement can be alive and active — but that they over excite it, eventually dull it, and finally kill it.
Although in the late s that stage had not yet been reached, all the signs, according to Hoggart, indicate that this is the way in which the world is travelling. For example, although mass culture may produce some awful popular songs, people do not have to sing or listen to these songs, and many do not: and those who do, often make the songs better than they really are.
So that even there they are less affected than the extent of their purchases would seem to indicate He com- pares a piece of contemporary writing in fact it is an imitation written by himself with an extract from East Lynne and an extract from Adam Bede. The contemporary extract is similarly thin in a quite definite sense: it does not tell the reader what to think. Compared even with the pub around the corner, this is all a peculiarly thin and pallid form of dissipation, a sort of spiritual dry-rot amid the odour of boiled milk.
Many of the customers — their clothes, their hair styles, their facial expressions all indicate — are living to a large extent in a myth world compounded of a few simple elements which they take to be those of American life ibid.
The hedonistic but passive barbarian who rides in a fifty-horse-power bus for threepence, to see a five- million-dollar film for one-and-eightpence, is not simply a social oddity; he is a portent Hoggart, however, does not totally despair at the march of mass culture. However, what makes his approach different from that of Leavisism is his detailed preoccupation with, and, above all, his clear commitment to, working-class culture.
What Hoggart celebrates from the s, is, significantly, the very culture that the Leavisites were armed to resist.
This alone makes his approach an implicit critique of, and an academic advance on, Leavisism. The range of his work alone is formidable. He has made significant contributions to our understanding of cultural theory, cultural history, television, the press, radio and advertising.
His contribution is all the more remarkable when one considers his origins in the Welsh working class his father was a railway signalmanand that as an academic he was Professor of Drama at Cambridge University.
In this section, I will comment only on his contribution to the founding of culturalism and its contribution to the study of popular culture. The purpose of cultural analysis, using this definition, is one of critical assessment. It can also involve a less exalted prac- tice: the cultural as the critical object of interpretative description and evaluation literary studies is the obvious example of this practice.
This definition introduces three new ways of thinking about culture. As he explains, I would then define the theory of culture as the study of relationships between ele- ments in a whole way of life. The analysis of culture is the attempt to discover the nature of the organization which is the complex of these relationships. Analysis of particular works or institutions is, in this context, analysis of their essential kind of organization, the relationships which works or institutions embody as parts of the organization as a whole By structure of feeling, he means the shared values of a particular group, class or society.
The term is used to describe a discursive structure that is a cross between a collective cultural unconscious and an ideology. He gives examples of how men and women are released from loveless mar- riages as a result of the convenient death or the insanity of their partners; legacies turn up unexpectedly to overcome reverses in fortune; villains are lost in the Empire; poor men return from the Empire bearing great riches; and those whose aspirations could not be met by prevailing social arrangements are put on a boat to make their dreams come true elsewhere.
All these and more are presented as examples of a shared struc- ture of feeling, the unconscious and conscious working out in fictional texts of the con- tradictions of nineteenth-century society. As he makes clear, What we are looking for, always, is the actual life that the whole organization is there to express. The significance of documentary culture is that, more clearly than anything else, it expresses that life to us in direct terms, when the living witnesses are silent ibid. The situation is complicated by the fact that culture always exists on three levels: We need to distinguish three levels of culture, even in its most general definition.
There is the lived culture of a particular time and place, only fully accessible to those living in that time and place. There is the recorded culture, of every kind, from art to the most everyday facts: the culture of a period. There is also, as the factor connecting lived culture and period cultures, the culture of the selective tradition Lived culture is culture as lived and experienced by people in their day-to-day existence in a particular place and at a particular moment in time; and the only people who have full access to this culture are those who actually lived its structure of feeling.
Once the historical moment is gone the structure of feeling begins to fragment. Cultural ana- lysis has access only through the documentary record of the culture. Between a lived culture and its reconstitution in cultural analysis, clearly, a great deal of detail is lost.
For example, as Williams points out, nobody can claim to have read all the novels of the nineteenth century. This quite clear pro- cess of selectivity does not prevent the three groups of readers from sharing a sense of the nature of the nineteenth-century novel. Williams is of course aware that no nineteenth-century reader would in fact have read all the novels of the nineteenth century. For Williams, it is crucial to understand the selectivity of cultural traditions.
Within a given society, selection will be governed by many kinds of special inter- ests, including class interests. Just as the actual social situation will largely govern contemporary selection, so the development of the society, the process of histor- ical change, will largely determine the selective tradition.
The traditional culture of a society will always tend to correspond to its contemporary system of interests and values, for it is not an absolute body of work but a continual selection and inter- pretation 38—9. This has quite profound ramifications for the student of popular culture.
If this is the case, it also follows that absolute judgements about what is good and what is bad, about what is high and what is low, in contemporary culture, should be made with a great deal less certainty, open as they are to historical realignment in a potential whirlpool of historical contingency.
Williams presses the case for a democratic account of culture: culture as a particular way of life. He then gives this account of the achievements of working-class culture: The working class, because of its position, has not, since the Industrial Revolution, produced a culture in the narrower sense. The culture which it has produced, and which it is important to recognise, is the collective democratic institution, whether in the trade unions, the cooperative movement, or a political party.
When it is considered in context, it can be seen as a very remarkable creative achievement Here is the basis for a democratic definition of culture.
But the difference between Leavisism and Williams on this point is that Williams does want a common culture, whilst Leavisism wants only a hierarchical culture of differ- ence and deference. Moreover, Williams is insistent that we distinguish between the commodities made available by the culture industries and what people make of these commodities.
That working-class people form perhaps a majority of the consumers of this material. In other words, people are not reducible to the commodities they consume.
Thompson states: This book has a clumsy title, but it is one which meets its purpose. Making, because it is a study in an active process, which owes as much to agency as conditioning. The working class did not rise like the sun at an appointed time. It was present at its own making 8. The Making of the English Working Class details the political and cultural formation of the English working class by approaching its subject from three different but related perspectives.
First, it reconstructs the political and cultural traditions of English radic- alism in the late eighteenth century: religious dissent, popular discontent, and the influence of the French Revolution.
Second, it focuses on the social and cultural experi- ence of the Industrial Revolution as it was lived by different working groups: weavers, field labourers, cotton spinners, artisans, etc.
He draws two conclusions from his research. Paradoxically, or perhaps not so, he has himself been criticized for overstressing the role of human agency — human experiences, human values — at the expense of structural factors see Anderson, The Making of the English Working Class is in so many ways a monumental contribution to social history in size alone: the Penguin edition runs to over nine hundred pages.
What makes it significant for the student of popular culture is the nature of its historical account. He is by no means the only historian who listens; the conservative historian G. Their crafts and tradi- tions may have been dying. Their hostility to the new industrialism may have been backward looking.
Their communitarian ideals may have been fantasies. Their insurrectionary conspiracies may have been foolhardy. But they lived through these times of acute social disturbance, and we did not. Their aspirations were valid in terms of their own experience; and, if they were casualties of history, they remain, condemned in their own lives, as casualties One of the difficulties when reading the contributions to the debate is the way that culturalism is made to carry two quite different meanings.
On the one hand, it is employed as a description of a particular methodology this is how I am using it here. This is a complex issue, but as a coda to this discussion of Hoggart, Williams and Thompson, here is a very simplified clarification: positively, culturalism is a methodology which stresses culture human agency, human values, human experience as being of crucial importance for a full sociological and historical understanding of a given social for- mation; negatively, culturalism is used to suggest the employment of such assumptions without full recognition and acknowledgement that culture is the effect of structures beyond itself, and that these have the effect of ultimately determining, constraining and, finally, producing, culture human agency, human values and human experience.
Thompson disagrees strongly with the second proposition, and refutes totally any sug- gestion that culturalism, regardless of the definition, can be applied to his own work. In this task they pay specific thanks to the work of Hoggart and Williams, and passing thanks to the key figures of Leavisism.
The book was written against a background of concern about the influence of popu- lar culture in the school classroom. In the National Union of Teachers NUT Annual Conference passed a resolution that read in part: Conference believes that a determined effort must be made to counteract the debasement of standards which result from the misuse of press, radio, cinema and television.
It calls especially upon those who use and control the media of mass communication, and upon parents, to support the efforts of teachers in an attempt to prevent the conflict which too often arises between the values inculcated in the classroom and those encountered by young people in the world outside quoted in Hall and Whannel, What Hall and Whannel are doing here is rejecting the arguments of both Leavisism, and the mostly American mass culture critique, which claims that all high culture is good and that all popular culture is bad, for an argument which says, on the one hand, that most high culture is good, and on the other, contrary to Leavisism and the mass culture critique, that some popular culture is also good — it is ultimately a question of popular discrimination.
It applies to films but not all, to some TV but not all. Their approach leads them to reject two common teaching strategies often encoun- tered when popular culture is introduced into the classroom. First, there is the defens- ive strategy that introduces popular culture in order to condemn it as second-rate culture. Not unequal, but of different value, is a very difficult distinction to unload.
Such a strategy will open up discrimination to a whole range of cultural activity and prevent the defensive ghettoization of high against the rest. Using the best of music hall, especially Marie Lloyd, as an example but also thinking of the early Charlie Chaplin, The Goon Show and jazz musiciansthey offer this definition: while retaining much in common with folk art, it became an individual art, exist- ing within a literate commercial culture.
The relationships here are more complex — the art is no longer simply created by the people from below — yet the interaction, by way of the conventions of presentation and feeling, re- establishes the rapport.
As they explain: Popular art. Such art has in common with folk art the genuine contact between audience and performer: but it differs from folk art in that it is an individualised art, the art of the known performer. Before the modernist revolution in art, everything here claimed for popular art could equally have been claimed for art in general.
There is popular art good and badand there is art good and not so goodand there is mass art. Rather than confront the mass culture critique, they seek to privilege certain of the texts and practices of popular culture and thus remove them from the condemnation of the critics of mass culture.
In order to do this they introduce a new category — the popular arts. Popular art is mass culture that has risen above its origins. The main focus of The Popular Arts is on the textual qualities of popular culture. However, when Hall and Whannel turn to questions of youth culture they find it neces- sary to discuss the interaction between text and audience.
This of course begs the question why this is not also necessary when other Intro - Vigilance (2) - Behind The Mask (CD of popular culture are discussed. Pop music culture — songs, magazines, concerts, festivals, comics, interviews with pop stars, films, etc. It mirrors attitudes and sentiments which are already there, and at the same time provides an expressive field and a set of symbols through which these atti- tudes can be projected Moreover, pop songs reflect adolescent difficulties in dealing with a tangle of emotional and sexual problems.
They invoke the need to experience life directly and intensely. The fact that they are produced for a commercial market means that the songs and settings lack a certain authenticity. Yet they dramatize authentic feelings. They express vividly the adolescent emotional dilemma Hall and Whannel also identify the way in which teenagers use particular ways of talking, particular places to go, particular ways of danc- ing, and particular ways of dressing, to establish distance from the world of adults.
This line of investigation would come to full fruition in the work of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, carried out during the s, under the directorship of Hall himself. Against this, they argue that there is very often conflict between the use made of a text, or a commodity that is turned into a text see discussion of the difference in Chapter 10 by an audience, and the use intended by the producers. As we noted earlier, Hall and Whannel compare pop music unfavourably with jazz.
Now all this may be true, but what is the ultimate purpose of the comparison? In the case of classical against pop music, it is always to show the banality of pop music and to say something about those who consume it. It is a genuine widening of sen- sibility and emotional range which we should be working for — an extension of tastes which might lead to an extension of pleasure. The worst thing which we would say of pop music is not that it is vulgar, or morally wicked, but, more simply, that much of it is not very good — Despite the theoretical suggestiveness of much of their analysis especially their identification of the contradictions of youth cultureand despite their protests to the contrary, their position on pop music culture is a position still struggling to free itself from the theoretical constraints of Leavisism: teenagers should be persuaded that their taste is deplorable and that by listening to jazz instead of pop music they might break out of imposed and self-imposed limitations, widen their sensibilities, broaden their emotional range, and perhaps even increase their pleasure.
As they explain, This process — the practical exclusion of groups and classes in society from the Album) tradition of the best that has been and is being produced in the culture — is especially damaging in a democratic society, and applies to both the traditional and new forms of high art. However, the very existence of this problem makes it even more important that some of the media which are capable of communicating work of a serious and significant kind should remain open and available, and that the quality of popular work transmitted there should be of the highest order pos- sible, on its own terms Where they do break significantly with Leavisism is in that they advocate training in critical awareness, not as a means of defence against popular culture, but as a means to discriminate between what is good and what is bad within popular culture.
It is a move which was to lead to a decisive break with Leavisism when the ideas of Hall and Whannel, and those of Hoggart, Williams and Thompson, were brought together under the banner of culturalism at the Birmingham University Centre for Con- temporary Cultural Studies. Three years after the publication of these comments, Hoggart established the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham. Many of the researchers who followed Hoggart into the Centre including myself did not find listening to pop music in the least repulsive; on the contrary, we found it profoundly attractive.
We focused on a different Hoggart, one critical of taking what is said at face value, a critic who proposed a procedure that would eventually resonate through the reading practices of cultural studies: we have to try and see beyond the habits to what the habits stand for, to see through the statements to what the statements really mean which may be the opposite of the statements themselvesto detect the differing pressures of emotion behind idiomatic phrases and ritualistic observances.
Culturalists study cultural texts and practices in order to reconstitute or reconstruct the experiences, values, etc. It is on the basis of these and other assumptions of culturalism, channelled through the traditions of English, sociology and history, that British cultural Intro - Vigilance (2) - Behind The Mask (CD began.
An interesting and informed survey — mostly from the perspective of culturalism — of the rise of urban popular culture since the s. Some good essays from a cultur- alist perspective. Eagleton, Terry ed. Essays in critical appreciation of the work of Raymond Williams. An interesting account.
But its insistence on claiming Williams for sociology distorts his place in cultural studies. Kaye, Harvey J. Excellent bibliography. But it is also more than this: it is a body of revolutionary theory with the purpose of changing the world. This makes Marxist analysis political in a quite specific way. But this is not to suggest that other methods and approaches are apolit- ical; on the contrary, Marxism insists that all are ultimately political.
The Marxist approach to culture insists that texts and practices must be analysed in relation to their historical conditions of production and in some versions, the chang- ing conditions of their consumption and reception. The fullest statement of the Marxist approach to history is contained in the Preface and Introduction to A Contribution to a Critique of Political Economy.
In Chapter 1, I discussed this formulation briefly in relation to different con- cepts of ideology. In general terms, each mode of production produces: i specific ways of obtaining the necessaries of life; ii specific social relationships between workers and those who control the mode of pro- duction, and iii specific social institutions including cultural ones.
The forces of production refer to the raw materials, the tools, the tech- nology, the workers and their skills, etc. The relations of production refer to the class relations of those engaged in production.
The relationship between base and superstructure is twofold. On the one hand, the superstructure both expresses and legit- imates the base. This relationship can be understood in a range of dif- ferent ways.
The relationship can also be seen as the setting of limits, the providing of a specific framework in which some developments are prob- able and others unlikely. Here is part of his famous letter to Joseph Bloch: According to the materialist conception of history, the ultimately determining ele- ment in history is the production and reproduction of real life.
Neither Marx nor I have ever asserted more than this. Therefore if somebody twists this into saying that the economic factor is the only determining one, he is transforming that proposition into a meaningless, abstract, absurd phrase. The economic situation is the basis, but the various components of the superstructure. We make our own history, but, first of all, under very definite assumptions and conditions.
Among these the economic ones are ultimately deci- sive. But the political ones, etc. Classical Marxism 61 What Engels claims is that the economic base produces the superstructural terrain this terrain and not thatbut that the form of activity that takes place there is deter- mined not just by the fact that the terrain was produced and is reproduced by the eco- nomic base although this clearly sets limits and influences outcomesbut by the interaction of the institutions and the participants as they occupy the terrain.
What they mean by this is that the domi- nant class, on the basis of its ownership of, and control over, the means of material production, is virtually guaranteed to have control over the means of intellectual pro- duction.
However, this does not mean that the ideas of the ruling class are simply imposed on subordinate classes. Given the uncertainty of this project, ideological struggle is almost inevitable. A classical Marxist approach to popular culture would above all else insist that to understand and explain a text or practice it must always be situated in its historical moment of production, analysed in terms of the historical conditions that produced it.
There are dangers here: historical conditions are ultimately economic; therefore cul- tural analysis can quickly collapse into economic analysis the cultural becomes a passive reflection of the economic. For example, a full analysis of nineteenth-century stage melo- drama would have to weave together into focus both the economic changes that pro- duced its audience and the theatrical traditions that produced its form.
The same also holds true for a full analysis of music hall. Although in neither instance should per- formance be reduced to changes in the economic structure of society, what would be insisted on is that a full analysis of stage melodrama or music hall would not be pos- sible without reference to the changes in theatre attendance brought about by changes in the economic structure of society.
It is these changes, a Marxist analysis would argue, which ultimately produced the conditions of possibility for the performance of a play like My Poll and My Partner Joe,10 and for the emergence and success of a performer like Marie Lloyd. In this way, then, a Marxist analysis would insist that ultimately, however indirectly, there is nevertheless a real and fundamental relationship between the emer- gence of stage melodrama and music hall and changes that took place in the capitalist mode of production.
The Institute was established in Following the coming to power of Hitler init moved to New York, attaching itself to the University of Columbia. In it moved back to Germany. In light music [popular music], once the trained ear has heard the first notes of the hit song, it can guess what is coming and feel flattered when it does come. The result is a constant reproduction of the same thing Whereas Arnold and Leavisism had worried that popular culture represented a threat to cultural and social authority, the Frankfurt School argue that it actually produces the opposite effect; Intro - Vigilance (2) - Behind The Mask (CD maintains social authority.
Here is Adorno reading an American situ- ation comedy about a young schoolteacher who is both underpaid [some things do not change], and continually fined by her school principal. As a result, she is without money and therefore without food. The humour of the storyline consists in her vari- ous attempts to secure a meal at the expense of friends and acquaintances. In other words, the script is a shrewd method of promoting adjustment to humiliating conditions by presenting them as objectively comical and by giving a picture of a person who experiences even her own inadequate position as an object of fun apparently free of any resentment —4.
But it is by no means the only way. As Herbert Marcuse a claims in One Dimensional Man: the irresistible output of the entertainment and information industry [the culture industry] carry with them prescribed attitudes and habits, certain intellectual and emotional reactions which bind the consumers more or less pleasantly to the pro- ducers and, through the latter, to the whole.
The products indoctrinate and mani- pulate; they promote a false consciousness which is immune against its falsehood. Todd Alison Rick Rose Frasier Danny Miguel Cristian Greenlee Emily Timmy Chris Kay Jerry Richard James Ryan Lindsay Jax Jessica Dawson Alexis
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