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The Uses of Literacy by Richard Hoggart

The Uses of Literacy (1957)

by Richard Hoggart

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Showing 4 of 4
British Working Class Anthrology: language, culture and reality interwoven.
  mdstarr | Sep 11, 2011 |
British Working Class Anthrology: language, culture and reality interwoven.
  muir | Nov 27, 2007 |
The classic work of analysis of English working-class culture.
  Fledgist | Jun 19, 2007 |
This book was first published in 1957 and was the earliest, and most effective, attempt to understand changes in British culture caused by “massification”. In it Hoggart argues that the appeals made by what he calls “the mass publicists” were made “more insistently, effectively and in a more comprehensive and centralised form today than they were earlier; that we are moving towards the creation of a mass culture, that the remnants of what was at least in part an urban culture “of the people” are being destroyed”. He examined cheap novels and magazines, popular newspapers and post war cinema and detected drift in all areas. The old, close, tightly knit working class culture was breaking up. In its place was emerging a mass culture composed of tabloid newspapers, the ascendency of media Barons such as Rupert Murdoch, advertising, and Hollywood. These forces colonised localities and robbed them of any distictiveness, being external to that which they dominated. His critique is not of popular culture, but of mass culture, which he distinguishes from popular culture as something that is imposed on the population from above. The value of “popular culture” is that it is self-created and so has a fundamental integrity, it is broadly sui generis, evolving according to its own laws and dictates rather than at the promptings of the mass media.

We must wonder whether, in this definition, there is any popular culture left, eliminated by the mass culture that has replaced it. In fact, all that Hoggart predicted has happened with speed and depravity. We live in an identikit world defined by the sameness of our high streets, the values we import from the media, and our patterns of behaviour and relating. As mass culture develops, propelled by new technologies, the profit ethic and the push for market share, and the manipulated tastes of individuals, we must wonder where it will take us next.
2 vote antimuzak | Sep 3, 2006 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Richard Hoggartprimary authorall editionscalculated
Garcias, FrançoiseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garcias, Jean ClaudeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Passeron, Jean-ClaudeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is about changes in working-class culture during the last thirty or forty years, in particular as they are being encouraged by mass publications.
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