Mixing personal memoir with social history and cultural critique, “The Uses of Literacy “anticipates recent interest in modes of cultural analysis that refuse to hide. No doubt about it, the Daily Herald declared, in a lead review of his newly published The Uses of Literacy, Richard Hoggart was “an angry. It is widely recognized that, without Richard Hoggart, there would have been no Centre for cultural studies. It is not always so widely acknowledged that without.
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First, it is a deeply humane account of a social group the mainly Northern working-class at a decisive historical conjuncture, experiencing the interaction of the two broad cultural forces of the predominantly pre-war local traditions of the working class and the increasingly powerful commercialism of post-war consumer capitalism.
The Uses of Literacy, by Richard Hoggart
Third, the reception of The Uses of Literacy in the British New Left of the late s tells us much about both the text itself and the political movement it soon related to, as well as our own difficulties in formulating a compelling and popular account of radical politics today.
A brief word on the structure and argument of The Hoghart of Literacy. It is arranged, significantly, in two conflicting parts: It is deeply readable, probably because it is noticeably shot-through yoggart a emotional identification with and intuitive sympathy for the manners of speech, behaviour, and even thought of the working-class community Hoggart studies.
I was raised in a suburb of Reading in what was held by local legend to be, at the time, the largest housing development in Europe outside of Sweden, full of identical brick semis and mock-tudor detached houses, all built in the mid s. Two important partialities must be noted though.
The Uses of Literacyit is often pointed out, is an account of the private life of the working-class, with the public world of politics centred around the workplace, and the at times creative, at times destructive tension between the two wholly excluded. But even in placing politics to one side and examining one aspect of working-class life—with such detail and compassion—Hoggart contributes decisively to a movement that would later find its home, directed by Hoggart, in ltieracy off-shoot of the Birmingham English Literature Department in The Uses of Literacy also provoked wide-ranging and liteeacy debate in the British New Left of the late s, and it is the nature and contours of this debate that I find instructive: Hoggart correctly identifies in the second part of The Uses of Literacy the shallowness and specious populism of popular publications, as well as their banality and the meretriciousness of the industry that produces them—which he compares fairly straightforwardly to the in parts resilient working-class culture he has previously outlined.
Hoggart argues that questions about the interaction between these two cultures are important, and the unbalanced nature of their meeting is hooggart we must bear in mind, unless we are satisfied with losing all that litteracy good in the older order and uncritically accepting the newer mass art.
This thought was an important one for the Early New Left, caught up in the same quick processes of cultural shift that Hoggart described. Our response, then, must be not only to examine the content of the publications that are read, but to accord central importance to the ownership of the media and the institutions for cultural dissemination and promotion.
Analogously, free speech is not just a matter of what can be said; it is increasingly important who owns the vehicles through which tbe speech is produced, circulated, and received.
The question of cultural classlessness—which Hoggart is clear in the Conclusion we are heading towards, or have already started achieving—is more complex, and I will do no more than scrape the surface of that debate here.
More relevant here but perhaps less important than the simple observation that there must be more to progressive thought than these where is socialism? The Uses of Literacy poses, directly and indirectly, a set of difficult questions for the strands of progressive thought White lietracy To answer these questions with the resources set down by Hoggart, The Uses of Literacy must be placed in its dual historical context.
On its release, The Uses of Literacy raised questions for the Early New Left about the character of a class culture, the very meaning of culture, and the interaction between culture and politics in cultural struggle and culture and class—questions which have not cannot?
The Uses of Literacy is above all, in my view, a study of a class living through a period of cultural change that has proved, while still incomplete and deeply contradictory, to be one of the most crucial developments in Western European society of the last century, and continuing in this one.
In the process of understanding uees change—and responding to it politically— The Uses of Literacy marks a starting-point. Written under a Creative Commons License, with edits: Is English your native language?
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Writing a Letter Writing an Evaluation Letter 3. Footnotes The Uses of Literacy is above all, in my view, a study of a class living through a period of cultural change that has proved, while still incomplete and deeply contradictory, to be one of the most crucial developments in Western European society of the last century, and continuing in this one.
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