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Richard hogart and cultural studies

  1. 1. Richard Hoggart and Cultural Studies Edited by Sue Owen
  2. 2. Richard Hoggart and Cultural Studies
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  4. 4. Richard Hoggart andCultural StudiesEdited bySue OwenUniversity of Sheffield, UK
  5. 5. Introduction, selection and editorial matter © Sue Owen 2008Individual chapters © contributors 2008All rights reserved. No reproduction, copy or transmission of thispublication may be made without written permission.No portion of this publication may be reproduced, copied or transmittedsave with written permission or in accordance with the provisions of theCopyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, or under the terms of any licencepermitting limited copying issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency,Saffron House, 6-10 Kirby Street, London EC1N 8TS.Any person who does any unauthorized act in relation to this publicationmay be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.The authors have asserted their rights to be identifiedas the authors of this work in accordance with the Copyright,Designs and Patents Act 1988.First published 2008 byPALGRAVE MACMILLANPalgrave Macmillan in the UK is an imprint of Macmillan Publishers Limited,registered in England, company number 785998, of Houndmills, Basingstoke,Hampshire RG21 6XS.Palgrave Macmillan in the US is a division of St Martin’s Press LLC,175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.Palgrave Macmillan is the global academic imprint of the above companiesand has companies and representatives throughout the world.Palgrave® and Macmillan® are registered trademarks in the United States,the United Kingdom, Europe and other countries.ISBN-13: 978–0–230–54545–8 hardbackISBN-10: 0–230–54545–9 hardbackThis book is printed on paper suitable for recycling and made from fullymanaged and sustained forest sources. Logging, pulping and manufacturingprocesses are expected to conform to the environmental regulations of thecountry of origin.A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataRichard Hoggart and cultural studies / [edited by] Sue Owen. p. cm. Includes index. ISBN-13: 978–0–230–54545–8 (alk. paper) ISBN-10: 0–230–54545–9 (alk. paper) 1. Hoggart, Richard, 1918—Influence. 2. Culture—Philosophy. 3. Great Britain—Intellectual life—20th century. 4. Criticism— Great Britain—History—20th century. I. Owen, Susan J. PR55.H6R52 2009 306.092—dc22 200802581810 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 117 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 09 08Printed and bound in Great Britain byCPI Antony Rowe, Chippenham and Eastbourne
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  8. 8. ContentsNotes on Contributors ix Introduction 1 Sue Owen 1 Richard Hoggart, The Uses of Literacy and The Cultural Turn 20 Stuart Hall 2 Richard Hoggart: Literary Criticism and Cultural Decline in Twentieth-Century Britain 33 Stefan Collini 3 Richard Hoggart, Cultural Studies and the Demands of the Present 57 Lawrence Grossberg 4 Richard Hoggart and the Way We Live Now 75 Jim McGuigan 5 Richard Hoggart and the Epistemological Impact of Cultural Studies 88 Richard E. Lee 6 From the Juke Box Boys to Revolting Students: Richard Hoggart and the Study of British Youth Culture 105 David Fowler 7 ‘Them’ and ‘Us’ 123 Robert J.C. Young 8 Repurposing Literacy: The Uses of Richard Hoggart for Creative Education 137 John Hartley 9 Critical Literacy, Cultural Literacy, and the English School Curriculum in Australia 158 Graeme Turner vii
  9. 9. viii Contents10 The Importance of Being Ordinary 171 Melissa Gregg11 The Antipodean Uses of Literacy 187 Mark Gibson12 Relativism and Reaction: Richard Hoggart and Conservatism 198 Charlie Ellis13 The Uses and Values of Literacy: Richard Hoggart, Aesthetic Standards, and the Commodification of Working-Class Culture 213 Bill Hughes14 Hoggart and Women 227 Sue OwenIndex 243
  10. 10. Notes on ContributorsStefan Collini is Professor of Intellectual History and English Literatureat Cambridge University and is Fellow of the British Academy and ofthe Royal Historical Society. His publications include Public Moralists:Political Thought and Intellectual Life in Britain 1850–1930 (OUP, 1991);Matthew Arnold: A Critical Portrait (OUP, 1994); English Pasts: Essays inHistory and Culture (OUP, 1999); and Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain(2006). In progress: Common Reading: Critics, Historians, Publics (2008).Charlie Ellis recently completed a PhD on ‘conservatism and the spiritof the market in post-Sixties Britain’ at the Department of Politics, Uni-versity of Sheffield. He is currently engaged in research at the Institutefor Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh.David Fowler teaches Modern British History and Economic Historyat The University of Cambridge and is Senior Member of Clare Hall,Cambridge. He is preparing a full-scale biography of Rolf Gardiner, aCambridge graduate of the 1920s, a pioneer of Anglo-German youthand student movements and a supposed British Fascist of the 1930s.He is the author of Youth Culture in the Twentieth Century (Macmillan,forthcoming) and The First Teenagers: The Lifestyle of Young Wage-Earnersin Interwar Britain (Frank Cass, London, 1995), along with several articleson Modern British youth culture and British social history.Mark Gibson is Chair of the Graduate Communications and MediaStudies Program in the National Centre for Australian Studies at MonashUniversity. He is the editor of Continuum: Journal of Media and CulturalStudies and the author of Culture and Power: A History of Cultural Studies(Oxford: Berg, 2007).Melissa Gregg is ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellow in the Centre forCritical and Cultural Studies, University of Queensland. She is the authorof Cultural Studies’ Affective Voices (Palgrave, 2006) as well as a number ofarticles on cultural studies, new media, feminism, and queer theory.Lawrence Grossberg is Morris Davis Distinguished Professor ofCommunication Studies and Cultural Studies, Adjunct DistinguishedProfessor of Anthropology, and Director of the University Program inCultural Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He ix
  11. 11. x Notes on Contributorsis the co-editor of the journal Cultural Studies. His recent books includeCaught in the Crossfire: Kids, Politics and America’s Future (Paradigm, 2005);New Keywords: A Revised Vocabulary of Culture and Society (with TonyBennett and Meaghan Morris (Blackwell, 2005)); and MediaMaking: MassMedia in a Popular Culture (with Ellen Wartella, D. Charles Whitney, andMacGregor Wise (Sage, 2005)). He has recently published essays on thestate and futures of cultural studies, Richard Hoggart, James Carey, StuartHall, theory at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS),and the possibility of other ‘modernities’. In progress: Cultural Studiesand the Challenge of the Contemporary.Stuart Hall is Professor Emeritus at the Open University. He was Direc-tor of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the Universityof Birmingham and Professor of Sociology at the Open University, fromwhere he retired in 1997. He currently chairs the boards of two culturaldiversity visual arts organisations. He is the (co-)author of many worksincluding The Popular Arts (1964); Policing the Crisis (1978); New Ethnic-ities (1988); The Hard Road to Renewal (1988); Resistance Through Rituals(1989); Modernity and Its Future (1992); What is Black in Popular Culture?(1992); Cultural Identity and Diaspora (1994); Questions of Cultural Identity(1996); Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies (1996); CulturalRepresentations and Signifying Practices (1997); and Visual Culture (1999).He was the founding editor of New Left Review.John Hartley is Australian Research Council Federation Fellow andResearch Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Indus-tries and Innovation at Queensland University of Technology, Australia.Recent books include Television Truths (Blackwell, 2008); Creative Indus-tries (Blackwell, 2005); A Short History of Cultural Studies (Sage, 2003); TheIndigenous Public Sphere (W.A. McKee, Oxford, 2000); Uses of Television(Routledge, 1999); and Popular Reality (Arnold, 1996). He is the editor ofthe International Journal of Cultural Studies (Sage).Bill Hughes is completing his PhD on communicative rationality andthe Enlightenment dialogue in relation to the development of the novelat the Department of English Literature in the University of Sheffield,UK. He is currently teaching in the Department. His research interests arein eighteenth-century literature, cultural and literary theory, particularlythe Bakhtin circle and the Frankfurt school, and aesthetics. He has alsopublished and is preparing articles on the dialogic aspect of eighteenth-century theories of language, the eroticism of knowledge in Fontenelle,and the proto-feminism of Bernard Mandeville.
  12. 12. Notes on Contributors xiRichard E. Lee is Professor of Sociology and Director of the FernandBraudel Center at Binghamton University. His research is focused onlong-term, large-scale social change from the world-systems perspective,concentrating especially on the intellectual and disciplinary structuresof knowledge, in writings that range across the sciences, social sciences,and humanities. Recent publications include Life and Times of CulturalStudies: The Politics and Transformation of the Structures of Knowledge(Duke University Press, 2003), and the collections World-Systems Anal-ysis: Contemporary Research and Directions (edited with Gerhard Preyer,Protosociology 20, 2004) and Overcoming the Two Cultures: Science ver-sus the Humanities in the Modern World-System (edited with ImmanuelWallerstein, Paradigm, 2004).Jim McGuigan is Professor of Cultural Analysis in the Department ofSocial Sciences, Loughborough University. His books include Writers andthe Arts Council (Arts Council, 1981); Cultural Populism (Routledge, 1992);Culture and the Public Sphere (Routledge, 1996); Modernity and Postmod-ern Culture (Open University Press, 1999, 2nd edn. 2006); and RethinkingCultural Policy (Open University Press, 2004). He is the co-editor of Tech-nocities (Sage, 1999) with John Downie. In progress: Cool Capitalism forPluto and Cultural Analysis for Sage.Sue Owen is Professor of English Literature and Cultural Analysis at theUniversity of Sheffield. Her books include Restoration Theatre and Crisis(Oxford, 1996) and Perspectives on Restoration Drama (Manchester, 2002);and, as editor, A Babel of Bottles: Drink, Drinkers and Drinking Places inLiterature (Sheffield, 2000) and The Blackwell Companion to RestorationDrama (Oxford, 2001). As well as numerous articles on a range of sub-jects (Restoration Drama, Aphra Behn, Andrew Marvell, drink, chaostheory, and Marxism), she has published ‘The Abuse of Literacy andThe Feeling Heart: The Trials of Richard Hoggart’, Cambridge Quarterly(2005); and ‘Richard Hoggart as Literary Critic’, International Journal ofCultural Studies (2007). She organized ‘The Uses of Richard Hoggart’,an international, cross-disciplinary conference on Richard Hoggart atSheffield in April 2006 and co-edited with John Hartley the specialHoggart issue of the International Journal of Cultural Studies (2007). Inprogress: a book-length critical study of Richard Hoggart and, as editor,Re-Reading Richard Hoggart for Cambridge Scholars Press.Graeme Turner is ARC Federation Fellow and Director of the Centre forCritical and Cultural Studies at the University of Queensland in Brisbane,Australia. One of the pioneers of cultural studies in Australia, his most
  13. 13. xii Notes on Contributorsrecent publications include Understanding Celebrity (Sage, 2004), and End-ing the Affair: The Decline of Television News and Current Affairs in Australia(University of New South Wales Press, 2005). His current research projectis a large international study of post-broadcast television.Robert J.C. Young is Julius Silver Professor of English and ComparativeLiterature at New York University. He was formerly Professor of Englishand Critical Theory at Oxford University. His books include WhiteMythologies: Writing History and the West (Routledge, 1990, new edition2004), Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Culture, Theory and Race (Routledge,1995), Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction (Blackwell, 2001), Post-colonialism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2003), and The Idea ofEnglish Ethnicity (Blackwell, 2007). His edited books include Untying theText (Routledge, 1981), and Poststructuralism and the Question of History(with Derek Attridge and Geoffrey Bennington (Cambridge, 1987)). Heis also General Editor of Interventions: International Journal of Postcolo-nial Studies (Routledge), and was a founding editor of the Oxford LiteraryReview. His work has been translated into 16 languages.
  14. 14. IntroductionSue OwenRichard Hoggart’s The Uses of Literacy (1957) is one of the seminal textsof the mid-twentieth century. The book, originally entitled The Abuse ofLiteracy, celebrates in Part I the resilient culture of working-class peoplebut offers in Part II a powerful critique of the specious populism andbanality of popular newspapers and magazines, the false palliness ofadverts, and the literary flatness and moral emptiness of many popularnovels. The book struck an immediate chord: it was widely reviewed inthe popular press and discussed on the radio.1 The book had a profoundinfluence on perceptions of the working class both inside and beyondthe academy in the UK, the USA and Australia, and was translated intoFrench, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Polish and Portuguese.2 It had amassive impact far beyond the academy, reaching a wide readershipand influencing a generation of novelists and playwrights.3 The Uses ofLiteracy spoke from and to the climate of post-war questioning of culturalelitism. The book had an enormous impact: in part for the intrinsicinterest, quality and originality of its argument, and in part because ofits bearings on wider discussions about the pace and direction of post-warsocial change. As Stuart Hall argues in this volume, Hoggart’s argumenttakes its bearings from the broader debate about post-war affluence andwhat came to be known as working-class ‘embourgeoisement’. Together with other key works such as Raymond Williams’ Cultureand Society, The Uses of Literacy laid the foundations of British culturalstudies. It changed forever ideas of what constitutes a worthwhile focusfor cultural analysis. It put the working class on the cultural map, not asobjects of middle-class scrutiny but as people with a culture and a pointof view of their own. Hoggart’s key departure from his predecessors incultural enquiry, such as F. R. and Q. D. Leavis, was to advocate ‘a littlemore humility about what audiences actually take from unpromising 1
  15. 15. 2 Introductionmaterial’ (Hoggart, 1963, 242). This is a central theme in The Uses ofLiteracy: to know working-class readers is to understand that they arenot as easily influenced as is assumed. Hoggart’s other major departurewas in valuing popular culture in a way the Leavises never would have:‘Perhaps no one should engage in the work who is not, in a certainsense, himself in love with popular art’ (Hoggart, 1963, 242). Hoggart’swork contains the seeds of the important mid-twentieth-century shiftfrom deploring to enjoying popular culture, though enjoyment is alwaystempered by critical discrimination. Questions of value, for Hoggart,cannot be evaded: It is plain that behind almost any discussion today about the arts, and indeed about any of those areas if British culture with which I have been involved, lies the evaded question of value judgments. (1993, 240)For Hoggart, the idea of value must be defended. Otherwise democracyis open to abuse: It is true . . . that it is better to be free to find our own rules than to have them imposed by church or state. But it is precisely in these kinds of democracies that this openness is comprehensively abused by people with their own ulterior purposes, does not lead to our being left alone, let alone aided to find our own beliefs. We are besieged by a mass of apparently conflicting but actually consonant voices, each peddling its own patterns of overt or more likely hidden beliefs. All of them – politicians, advertisers, tabloid newspaper hacks and many another – are interested parties; the ways of life they offer have overwhelmingly at their centre the notion that it’s all a matter of taste, and of changing taste, since that’s what keeps the wheels of this kind of society turning. Openness becomes emotional promiscuity, choice becomes whim; but underneath is a passivity, the acceptance of things as they are and are offered. (1993, 240)A crucial aspect of the argument of The Uses of Literacy is that the ‘pop-ular persuaders’ (all ‘consonant’ in method, however different in theirparticular ideology) exploit and graft themselves onto old, positive val-ues. Thus, traditional working-class openness becomes shared passivity:‘Above all, you mustn’t resist, like a stone in the water, snagging theinchoate flow. Or make distinctions’ (1993, 242). And he is not afraid
  16. 16. Sue Owen 3to challenge those who abandon critical value judgements in favourof populism and so critically disempower those from disregarded sub-groups whom they ostensibly defend. Hoggart challenges the view that‘anything goes’, that one should not be a snob or a spoilsport, thathigh-mindedness or intellectual snobbery must be avoided at all costsand cannot be distinguished from intellectual discrimination and crit-ical stringency. For Hoggart it is crucial to tackle this error in order toarm people against the manipulations of the popular persuaders and tochallenge the tyranny of relativism which they exploit.4 This book offers a long overdue reappraisal of Hoggart’s contributionto cultural studies. The contributors to the volume range from eminentfigures within cultural studies to younger scholars, and their range ofopinions on Hoggart is considerable, but all agree on his significance. Itis important to remember that Hoggart came to cultural studies from abackground in literary criticism. Hoggart believed that ‘great’ works of literature supremely embody the meanings within cultures; that they perceptively and honestly explore and recreate the natures of societies and the experiences of human beings within them; that ‘great’ writing bears its meanings by creating orders within itself and so helps reveal the orders of values within societies whether by mirroring them or by resisting them and proposing, usu- ally obliquely, new orders, and so the expressive arts, and especially literature, are guides of a unique kind to the value-bearing nature of societies. (1995, 87)As Bill Hughes argues in this volume, Hoggart sees the working class asarmed and empowered through education and, in particular, through anencounter with good literature. One of the continuing threads throughthe collection is how the roots of Hoggart’s critical practice in literarystudies have been forgotten and need to be revisited: Hall’s, Grossberg’sand McGuigan’s chapters all in different ways, and from differing per-spectives, recover this aspect of Hoggart’s work and in so doing makewhat is still a slightly unusual (for cultural studies) rapprochement withliterary studies. The chapters by Turner and Hughes also pursue this lineof enquiry, using Hoggart’s ideas to rescue and renegotiate an idea ofliterary value more subtle than either Arnoldian elitism or the populistbacklash against it. Thus, Hoggart is being revaluated from within cul-tural studies, and the issues raised are important for the whole field. Andat the same time, there starts a rapprochement between cultural studies
  17. 17. 4 Introductionand literary studies, fields with overlapping interests and many commongoals. The socio-political relevance of these concerns is brought out inthis volume, for example in the chapters by Ellis and Gregg. The Editor ofthe present volume, like Hoggart himself, came to cultural studies from abackground in literary criticism. The importance of the present volumerests not only upon its rethinking of Hoggart’s position within culturalstudies, but upon its recovery of the complicated (and in recent terms,largely ignored) relation between Hoggart’s roots in literary studies andhis foundation of the new ‘discipline’ of cultural studies. Given Hoggart’s interdisciplinarity, his attempt to bridge the gapbetween literary criticism and cultural studies, it is scarcely surprisingthat the reception of Uses in the academy has been mixed (though notas mixed as some have thought), and that its reputation has changedover time. From the start, both the argument and the method were con-troversial. In his autobiography Hoggart describes reactions to his bookamongst academic colleagues: ‘Many people I knew in internal depart-ments of English kept fairly quiet about it, as though a shabby cat fromthe council house next door had brought in an odd – even a smelly –object into the house’ (1991, 143). Hoggart had breached decorum inseveral ways: by making popular culture the object of critical scrutiny, bymingling literary analysis and socio-political issues, by mixing personalmemoir with social history and cultural analysis and by focusing uponthe question of class. On the Left, the reaction was guarded (though notas guarded as some have thought) from a different perspective. The sec-ond issue of the Universities and Left Review (summer 1957) was devotedto a debate on Uses and mixed praise with criticism. Raymond Williamspraised Hoggart’s deep loyalty to his own people but repudiated his cri-tique of working-class materialism and criticized his exclusion of thepolitically active minority of the working class. This debate has beenread differently by Francis Mulhern and Stuart Hall. Where Mulhernsees grave criticism of Hoggart’s method, Hall sees a collective effortto expand the definition of culture and politics and a growing percep-tion of culture as one of the constitutive grounds of all social practices(Mulhern, 2000, 62–3; Hall in this volume). Hoggart was overshadowedin the 1970s by Marxism within cultural studies (Hoggart, 1993, 98). Theproblem with Uses for Marxists was twofold: in Part I Hoggart paints aportrait of working-class life and culture, drawing on his own experiencein a way which prefigures feminist writing of the 1980s. This was out oftune with the hyper-theoretical mood of the 1970s. Secondly, Hoggart’sstand for value could seem similar to the elitism of T. S. Eliot and theLeavises (despite crucial distinctions which were ignored).
  18. 18. Sue Owen 5 More perceptive about the book’s theoretical weight and method-ological importance was the French sociologist and cultural theoristJean-Claude Passeron. The Uses of Literacy was published in France in1970 as La Culture de Pauvre: Etude sur le Style de Vie des Classes Pop-ulaires en Angleterre, with an introduction by Passeron. Passeron is animportant figure in the European history of ideas. He collaborated withPierre Bourdieu in the 1960s in various works exploring the epistemolog-ical foundations of popular culture, including Le M´ tier de Sociologue: an eassertion of the scientific basis of sociological methodology. Taking hisdistance from Bourdieu, Passeron moved into exploring the sociologyof culture and was drawn to the work of Hoggart. His Introduction toUses is very significant. Patrick Gaboriau and Philippe Gaboriau, in anoverview of ‘Popular Culture Studies in France’, cite it as one of the keytheoretical texts in the evolution of French studies of popular culture(1991, 178). Passeron’s introduction was translated into English in 1971,at a time when the British intelligentsia was beginning to be excitedby the ideas of French intellectuals, and published in the series WorkingPapers on Cultural Studies by the Birmingham Centre for ContemporaryCultural Studies (CCCS). An introductory passage states that Passeron‘suggests the theoretical foundations and hypotheses in this apparentlyuntheoretical book and goes on to indicate the ways in which it seemsto have been misunderstood by bourgeois intellectuals’. The first state-ment is extremely important, while the second is an understatement:Passeron argues that the book confronts intellectuals with their ownbiases. Where British critics might see a weakness in the book’s jargon-free style, its grounding in personal experience and empirical method,Passeron sees the autobiographical element as a strength, as it allowsHoggart to ‘relativise his own judgments’ (Passeron, 1971, 121) or, inother words, to avoid claims to a specious objectivity typical of bour-geois intellectuals. More than this, it allows an honest representation,understanding and reinstatement of the popular voice in culture. Passeron discerns a theoretical rigour behind the ‘liveliness of thedescription’ in Hoggart’s book (1971, 122). He explains how the bookhas social scientific validity in the tradition of ethnography. Hoggart’slack of distance is a strength not a weakness, allowing him to give a morecomplete picture than an ethnographer could, in a ‘properly sociologicaleffort on the part of the author to hold together systematically a wholeplay of determinations and a whole constellation of attitudes’ (1971,124). Hoggart’s style allows him to ‘let the object of study speak for itself’(1971, 124), and thus to redress the bias of studies of the working class byintellectual outsiders. His combination of ‘distancing and participation’
  19. 19. 6 Introductionallows him to ‘perceive and explain by example even the very nuances ofthe behaviour of intellectuals with working-class backgrounds’, and his‘particular habit of mind is peculiarly effective when bourgeois or petit-bourgeois ethnocentrism needs ousting’ (1971, 126). His method revealsthe ‘class biases’ of apparently ‘obvious’ views of the working class whichare ‘in their own way as racist as those of pre-scientific ethnographerslimited to detailing the barbarism of the ‘primitives’ (1971, 127). Heexposes the ‘apparently neutral language’ and the self-serving ‘screen ofan ideology of experts’ behind which bourgeois intellectuals hide. Such French praise of British empiricism is astonishing. Passeron estab-lishes Hoggart’s social-scientific credentials and traces the debt to Usesof a whole swathe of sociological studies throughout the 1960s. Of evengreater significance is Passeron’s rebuttal of misreadings of Hoggart asnon- or even anti-theoretical. Hoggart is able, ‘without any great the-oretical fanfares, to pose some questions as pertinent for theory as forthe empirical analysis of the transformations in popular culture and thereceptivity of the different class levels to the ideological solicitationscontained in the message of the cultural industry and directed at them’(1971, 128). This is because Hoggart’s understanding of working-classresilience gives him a more complex perspective on the reception of themass media and hence a more nuanced appreciation of transformationsin popular culture. Far from considering Hoggart untheoretical, Passeron discerns ‘theoriginality of this theoretical approach’ which allows him to ‘tease outthe law which subordinates the efficacy of the factors of change to theirrelevance to the pre-existing structures’ (1971, 130). Thus, Hoggart isable to demolish retrospective myths of a golden age of working-classculture, as well as making ‘a protest in the name of scientific objec-tivity against aristocratic, populist, apocalyptic or foolishly optimisticpronouncements which come between the life of the working class andits necessarily intellectual or bourgeois observers’ (1971, 121). Passeronshows an exceptional awareness of Hoggart’s theoretical importance, andthe reception of Passeron’s ideas in the milieu of the Birmingham CCCSin the early 1970s is extremely significant.5 Hoggart had founded the CCCS at Birmingham University in the early1960s. He explains the thinking behind the move in his inaugural lec-ture in 1963.6 Due allowance should be made for his literary audience:the new field of cultural studies was conceived as within English Liter-ature. Hoggart had been prompted to study popular culture partly bythe questions asked by his students in adult education about connec-tions between literature and daily life. He had made such connections
  20. 20. Sue Owen 7in The Uses of Literacy, and in his inaugural lecture at Birmingham hechallenges others to follow his lead as he makes the case for wideningthe boundaries of English. It is hard now to recapture the force of Hog-gart’s challenge to received wisdom about the loftiness and timelessnessof English Literature: English, once again and finally, has to do with language exploring human experience, in all its flux and complexity. It is therefore always and finally in an active relation with its age; and some students of literature – many more students of literature than at present – ought to try to understand these relationships better. (1963, 243)Schools of English, Hoggart argues, have a mission to engage with howlanguage is being used in the world today, even if this means movingoutside disciplinary boundaries. He admires the boldness of those whotackle ‘interconnections between history, politics and the aesthetics ofpopular taste’ (1963, 239). This is iconoclastic stuff in 1963, and Hoggartis careful to situate his argument in the context of initial praise for literaryvalues and an assertion of the primacy of literary critical method. Thismight be a sop to the School of English which employed him. But it goesdeeper. Hoggart is not debunking literary criticism but giving it a higher –or perhaps broader – mission. A training in English encourages ‘increasedrespect for the life of language, and for the unpremeditated textures ofexperience’ (1963, 234). Thus, the literary critic is uniquely fitted toexpose debased uses of language by the persuaders and manipulators,when ‘prose has its eye only slightly on the object and almost wholly onthe audience’ (1963, 235). This is effectively a political stand: As it is, too many of us stay most of the time within our well-defined academic areas – but succumb easily to occasional invitations from the world outside. We do not with sufficient confidence separate ourselves from that world nor sufficiently critically engage with it. By insisting on the difficult but responsible life of language, and on the overriding importance of the human scale, we can try to do our part in resisting the unreal, unfelt and depersonalized society. (1963, 237)This still seems pertinent. The remit of the new cultural studies, as Hoggart envisages it, is three-fold: ‘one is, roughly, historical and philosophical; another is, again
  21. 21. 8 Introductionroughly, sociological; the third – which will be the most important –is the literary critical’ (1963, 239). The ‘historical and philosophical’approach includes the need to know more about the history of ‘the cul-tural debate’ along the lines pioneered by Raymond Williams in Cultureand Society, and a better definition of terms to avoid confused assump-tions as ‘The clash of undernourished generalizations and of submergedapologetics takes the place of what should be a dialogue’ (1963, 240).Some might call this work ‘theoretical’. It has gone on in the last 40 yearswithout Hoggart’s appeal for it being recognized. And his appeal remainstopical: whilst terms like ‘highbrows, middlebrows and lowbrows’ mightnow be discredited, other dubious terms Hoggart questions, such as ‘thecommon man’ and ‘the masses’, may still have a certain regrettable cur-rency. And Hoggart’s appeal for more philosophers to come into the fieldhas been entirely unheeded, so that there is still a cavalier creation of‘new little cultural patterns’ such as ‘the Angry Young Man’ movement(1963, 240). The sociological approach Hoggart envisaged would include atten-tion to the background and rewards of writers and artists; the audi-ences for ‘different levels of approach’; the opinion-formers and theirchannels of influence; organizations for the production and distribu-tion of the written and spoken word (including the impact of the‘paperback revolution’ and what it means to see books as commodi-ties); links between commercialization and (literary) reputations; andfinally how little we know about all sorts of interrelations: about interrelations between writers and their audiences, and about their shared assump- tions; about interrelations between writers and organs of opinion, between writers, politics, power, class and cash; about interrela- tions between the sophisticated and the popular arts, interrelations which are both functional and imaginative; and how few foreign comparisons we have made. (1963, 241)Hoggart insists throughout on accuracy and historical specificity and onthe avoidance of schematism and specious generalizations. At the sametime, he draws a much bigger map here than he is often given credit for.He appears to envisage cultural studies as a multi-disciplinary project tobuild up an overall view of contemporary culture through attention tospecifics. This method of a dialectic between the particular and the gen-eral has not really been grasped by his successors. And, though some of
  22. 22. Sue Owen 9the issues he outlines have been addressed, others remain comparativelyunexplored. Hoggart reiterates that the literary critical approach is the ‘mostimportant of all’ and explains why it is distinct from the sociologicalapproach: Most important of all: the directly literary critical approach in cul- tural studies is itself neglected. Yet it is essential to the whole field because, unless you know how these things work as art, even though sometimes as ‘bad art’, what you say about then will not cut deep. Here, we particularly need better links with sociologists. It is difficult, outside a seminar, to use a literary critical vocabulary – to talk about ‘the quality of the imagination’ shown; or to discuss the effect on a piece of writing of various pressures – for instance, to talk about corner-cutting techniques, or linguistic tricks, or even (perhaps espe- cially – about what tone reveals. All this needs to be analyzed more, to be illustrated and enforced – and at all levels, not just in relation to mass arts.7It will be clear that there is a literary critical slant to all this fromwhich later cultural studies has largely departed. Hoggart values liter-ary critical method for its truth-revealing power, its ability to revealtones and nuances, to identify influence, to elucidate, expose anddebunk. But always Hoggart insists on the quiddity of the literaryor cultural object of study. The text is never to be read as historicalevidence, but always from inside out rather than outside in. Unsur-prisingly, these disciplinary distinctions were not always maintained inthe way Hoggart envisaged them, especially after his departure fromthe Centre, though, as Hall and Grossberg point out in this volume,his influence was stronger than some have supposed. The impor-tance of Hoggart’s initiative in founding the CCCS would be hard tooverstate. Hoggart is best known for The Uses of Literacy, but has been a pro-lific writer, publishing 27 books, including 2 in 2004 at the age of 87.These range from works of cultural analysis such as The Way We Live Now,to works of personal reflection such as First and Last Things and Promisesto Keep, and to collections of essays on a wide variety of topics, such asthe two volumes of Speaking to Each Other, Between Two Worlds and AnEnglish Temper. It flows from his conception of the intellectual’s socialand political role that he has not lived in the ivory tower but has engagedin society, striving for change from within. He has been an Assistant
  23. 23. 10 IntroductionDirector-General of UNESCO and has undertaken many activities in arts,cultural matters, broadcasting and education. Amongst other positions,he has served as a member of the Albermarle Committee on Youth Ser-vices, a member of the Pilkington Committee on Broadcasting, ReithLecturer, Chair of the Broadcasting Research Unit, Vice-Chair of theArts Council, Chair of the Statesman and Nation Publishing Company,Chair of the Advisory Council for Adult and Continuing Education andmember of the British Board of Film Classification Appeals Committee.Hoggart was a leading witness for the defence in the trial at the OldBailey in 1960 of Penguin Books Ltd. for publishing D. H. Lawrence’sLady Chatterley’s Lover. His evidence is widely acknowledged to havebeen central in leading to the acquittal, which marked a watershedin public perception and shifted cultural parameters. Hoggart was thefirst British critic to take TV and radio seriously. He made a number ofcritical interventions: his Reith lectures, his contributions to the reportof the Pilkington Committee and his works on media, including OnlyConnect: On the Nature and Quality of Mass Communications, The MassMedia: A New Colonialism and Mass Media in Mass Society. His recurringideas are respect for the medium of broadcasting and its possibilities;respect for its audiences; no regard to vested influence of governmentor advertisers which means commitment to the licence fee; provisionfor all not just those worth wooing for an ulterior end; the idea thatwe all at times belong to a number of minorities or overlapping com-munities and sometimes belong to majorities; the idea that there isa qualitative difference between assessing, on the one hand, the sizeof audience and, on the other, the intensity with which individualsrespond to difference programmes; the notion that quality is deter-mined by integrity before the subject and intended audience and notby ‘height of brow’ (this is especially important given the broadcast-ers’ dismissal of critics as elitist or culturally snobbish); promotion ofenabling rather than prohibitive legislation; the view that broadcastersshould be obliged to provide space for programmes which do not at firstattract large audiences; the idea that if, in the effort to increase audi-ences, producers make programmes they secretly despise, they will soondespise the audiences they make them for and eventually despise them-selves; and the view that broadcasting should not hesitate to reflect ‘Thequarrel of this society with itself’ even though politicians may not likethe result (Hoggart, 1993, chapter 8). Hated by Margaret Thatcher andMary Whitehouse, Hoggart nevertheless strove to serve culture in thepublic sphere, as an important extension of his ideas about the need forcultural quality.
  24. 24. Sue Owen 11 The very range and diversity of Hoggart’s socio-cultural interven-tions has meant that his reputation has been slow to gain ground. There-evaluation of Hoggart in this volume follows on from an importantconference, The Uses of Richard Hoggart, at the University of Sheffieldin April 2006. This was an extremely successful international, cross-disciplinary event, attended by people from UK, France, USA andAustralia. Scholars from nine disciplines (English Literature and Lan-guage, Politics, Cultural Studies, Sociology, History, Education, AdultEducation, Epistemology and a biologist) held a genuine intellectualexchange across disciplinary boundaries. Speakers ranged from ‘bignames’ such as Hoggart himself, novelist David Lodge and contribu-tors to this volume who are eminent within cultural studies, to youngscholars and representatives of a diverse range of organizations fromUNESCO to the WEA, relatives and friends of Hoggart and membersof the wider community. The success of the conference indicates thatthe time for a re-evaluation of Hoggart was exactly right. A particularlystrong Australian contingent at the conference, whose attendance waspart-funded by the Australian Research Council, reflected the influenceof Hoggart’s ideas in Australia. Following the conference, John Hartleyfrom the Queensland University of Technology published (with SueOwen) a special Hoggart issue of the International Journal of Cultural Stud-ies, ten years after he and Mark Gibson printed a seminal interview withHoggart in the same journal. From the USA, the conference was privi-leged to have contributors as diverse as epistemologist Richard E. Lee,cultural studies’ Lawrence Grossberg and historian Michael Rosenfeld.8 This diversity of range and unity of purpose is reflected in this volume.The first chapter is by Stuart Hall, first Research Fellow and later Hog-gart’s successor as Director of the Birmingham CCCS. Hall’s testimonyis important, both because of this early collaboration with Hoggart andunderstanding of his method and importance and because Hall’s impor-tance as a cultural critic of the Left has led to his being identified withMarxist thought which has been seen as being against Hoggart and supe-rior to him. Hall is unequivocal about the importance of Hoggart’s rolein founding the Centre and the importance of The Uses of Literacy asone of the founding texts of cultural studies. He revisits both The Uses ofLiteracy and Hoggart’s inaugural lecture in order to show how Hoggartbreaks from the discourse of cultural decline put forward by Arnold andhis successors (the Leavises, Eliot et al.). For Hall, Hoggart’s emphasis onworking-class resilience makes a decisive break with the pessimism ofhis predecessors. Like Passeron before him, Hall traces the methodolog-ical underpinnings in Hoggart’s work. He charts Hoggart’s conceptual
  25. 25. 12 Introductioninnovations, the chief of which was to redefine culture to include howworking-class people spoke and thought, their ways of ‘making sense’ ofthe world. This is far removed from ‘culture’ as the ideal court of judge-ment, whose touchstone was ‘the best that has been thought and said’,which animated the tradition from Arnold to Eliot and Leavis. More-over, Hall counters Marxist views of Hoggart’s ‘Arnoldian’ irrelevance bysituating Hoggart’s redefinition of culture in parallel to that of RaymondWilliams rather than in subordination to it. Hall reinstates Hoggart within the history of cultural studies, findingin Hoggart the roots of innovations at the heart of the field and its spiritof interdisciplinarity. Hall sees the residue of Hoggart’s ‘literary’ approachnot as a flaw, but as the germ of the preoccupation with semiotics in theCCCS milieu. For Hall, Hoggart is no longer a ‘Matthew Arnoldian liberalhumanist’, but the precursor of Althusser and Sassure. Hoggart’s work isnot to be located in opposition to Marxism, post-structuralism and otherstrands of theory, but as the catalyst of their reception into Englishcultural studies. Hall locates the reception of Uses of Literacy within thecontext of the rise of the New Left. He sees Hoggart’s arguments not asin conflict with those of the left, but as being in keeping with leftistassessments of the ‘conjuncture’. Stefan Collini defended Hoggart and deplored his neglect in compari-son to Raymond Williams in English Pasts in 1999, arguing that ‘RichardHoggart is an English moralist’, in the best sense, and that ‘More thanever, we need him to be in good voice’ (1999, 230). In this volume,Collini locates Hoggart in the context of British intellectual history. Hisargument is somewhat distinct from Stuart Hall’s. He assesses how farThe Uses of Literacy shared the dominant critical practice of the ‘New Crit-icism’ of F. R. Leavis and the broader tradition which not only sharedsome of Leavis’s assumptions but also drew upon Auden and Orwell.He considers that Hoggart shared the cultural pessimism and moralconfidence of the dominant post-war school of criticism, identifyinga rhetoric of secularized Protestantism in Hoggart’s writing. He exam-ines the affinities between The Uses of Literacy and the pastoral modewhich emphasized the importance of community and a stable way oflife. He also traces links to the ‘condition of England’ tradition. He endsby comparing Hoggart and Raymond Williams, praising the generosityand delicate economy of Hoggart’s own review of Williams’ work; andhe salutes the strain in Hoggart’s work that makes it hard to align himwith any school of thought. Lawrence Grossberg’s assessment is very much in keeping with Hall’s.He draws on his own experience as a student at the CCCS in 1968
  26. 26. Sue Owen 13to assert Hoggart’s central role at the Centre and to rescue Hoggart’svision of cultural studies from later misreadings. He shows how Hoggart’sliterary-critical practice helped students in ‘honing the skills necessary toread for tone and values’. He shows the theoretical and epistemologicalunderpinnings of Hoggart’s subtle attention to the complexities of howtexts relate to the lives of individuals and to the values at work in bothtexts and society. He looks at the changing ‘problematics’ in responseto which cultural studies asserted itself, then and now, and shows howHoggart, like Raymond Williams, responded to the challenge posed byscientism and positivism. Like Hall, he argues for the seminal role ofThe Uses of Literacy, which he reads as ‘anti-reductionist’, holding on tothe complexity of human reality. He argues that Hoggart’s portrait of theworking class in the book is far from static and that the book may beread as ‘an attempt to theorize cultural transmission as an epistemologi-cal opening into a theory of social change’. Grossberg locates his defenceof Hoggart’s vision in the context of a broader enquiry into the natureof cultural studies. For Hoggart and others at the Centre, cultural studiesmeant asserting that intellectual work matters; that the right questionsneed to be asked about the proper way to carry out intellectual work. Itmeant challenging disciplinary boundaries, questioning the binary logicof the humanities, as well as scientism, reductionism, universalism andthe desire for completeness. Finally, he describes the ‘problematic’ of thesituation in the USA today and the continuing relevance of Hoggart’sinsistence on the importance of the imagination in making a betterfuture. Whereas Hall and Collini focus on The Uses of Literacy, Jim McGuiganassesses the impact of Hoggart’s The Way We Live Now (1995). He drawson the ideas of Pierre Bourdieu to show how Hoggart refreshes the ‘game’of English Literary study, rather than seeking to destroy it. He exam-ines the gains and losses in the break between Hoggart’s conception ofcultural studies as an adjunct to English and the subsequent ‘autonomi-sation’ of the field. He compares Hoggart’s critique of Thatcherism withStuart Hall’s. The American title of The Way We Live Now is The Tyrannyof Relativism and McGuigan explores what Hoggart means by relativism,analysing Hoggart’s own resistance to relativism by tracing the continu-ities between The Uses of Literacy and The Way We Live Now. He assertsHoggart’s consistency and continuing relevance and salutes his resis-tance to pressures to accommodate to popular taste to which othershave succumbed. Epistemologist Richard E. Lee brings a different disciplinary perspec-tive to bear. Lee’s argument was strongly endorsed by Stuart Hall at the
  27. 27. 14 Introductionconference on Hoggart, and Hall sees Lee’s argument as very much inkeeping with his own. Lee locates Hoggart’s work within the context ofthe enormous consequences the cultural studies movement has had asan epistemological project in the contemporary reordering of the disci-plines of knowledge. Lee’s chapter is therefore macrocosmic, situatingthe arguments of the previous chapters in the broader context of epis-temological shifts within the sciences as well as humanities. First, Leelocates the impact of The Uses of Literacy in the dual context of traditional‘English social criticism’ and ‘the turn to culture by the independent leftin Britain during the 1950s’. Lee defends Hoggart from the charge ofbeing apolitical, arguing that The Uses of Literacy ‘legitimated a return toclass politics, albeit one based on the solidarities of backstreet life’. Hethen goes on to situate Hoggart’s achievement and importance in thecontext of a ‘secular crisis of the structures of knowledge’ in ‘a periodcharacterized in the economic arena by a world-scale crisis of capitalaccumulation and in the geopolitical arena by intractable difficulties inreestablishing medium-term stability’. He concludes that cultural studiesas a knowledge movement has played a fundamental role in the episte-mological crisis of the structures of knowledge in the modern world andthat Richard Hoggart’s contribution in that respect has been clear fromthe very beginning. David Fowler traces Hoggart’s engagement with the emergence of ayouth culture from the 1950s to the 1980s. He begins with Hoggart’ssection on the ‘Juke Box Boys’ in The Uses of Literacy and goes on toanalyse the Albermarle Report on teenagers which Hoggart co-wrote withLeslie Paul in 1960 and to examine some of his journalism on the subject.He identifies sources for Hoggart’s views on youth culture which have nothitherto been grasped and examines his relationship with Ray Goslingand Colin MacInnes. He shows that previous cultural critics have beenwrong to suppose Hoggart disapproved of youth culture. He preferredprovincial youth culture, more rooted in the community. Whilst StuartHall developed research on youth culture at the CCCS, Hoggart originallypioneered this work. Fowler’s analysis is therefore in keeping with Hall’sin appreciating Hoggart’s role in subsequent developments at the CCCS. Robert Young’s title ‘ ‘‘Them’’ and ‘‘Us’’ ’ is taken from the title of chap-ter 3 of The Uses of Literacy, in which Hoggart defines the ways in whichworking-class people describe themselves and the upper classes. Younganalyses Hoggart’s characterization of class division and working-classidentity, and considers in particular the moments when he representsdivisions within the working class, including questions of race and eth-nicity, and the means through which individuals or groups move ‘up (or
  28. 28. Sue Owen 15down) the scale’. Young explores the contradictions of Uses. For exam-ple, he considers the way in which racial difference is both evoked andoccluded. He analyses the contradiction between Hoggart’s disapprovalof 1950s popular culture and his evocation of popular speech and atti-tudes which leaps to life in a manner comparable to Joyce’s Ulysses,overpowering his arguments against it. Young also considers the dispar-ity between the book’s two halves, arguing that ‘If the first half of thebook is with ‘‘us’’, the second half is definitely with ‘‘them’’.’ The next two contributions are at the interface of cultural studiesand Education. John Hartley asks, after 50 years, what are the impli-cations of Uses of Literacy for educational modernization, in the lightof subsequent changes from ‘read only’ literacy to ‘read–write’ uses ofmultimedia? This chapter argues that a broad extension of popular liter-acy via consumer-created digital content offers not only emancipationistpotential in line with Hoggart’s own project, but also economic benefitsvia the dynamics of creative innovation. Multimedia ‘popular entertain-ments’ pose a challenge to formal education, but not in the way thatHoggart feared. Instead of producing ‘tamed helots’, commercial culturemay be outpacing formal schooling in promoting creative digital literacyvia entrepreneurial and distributed learning. It may indeed be that thosein need of a creative makeover are not teenagers but teachers. Like Hartley’s, Graeme Turner’s argument has a wide application forschools and universities in UK and USA, as well as Australia. He reflectson the contemporary currency of what Hoggart calls ‘critical literacy’through a discussion of a series of debates about the formation of ‘crit-ical literacies’ in the senior school curriculum in Australia. Among theramifications of these debates is the complicated political and pedagog-ical alignments it has created: a cultural studies scholar can find himselflocated on the same side as those who would entirely disapprove ofcultural studies, while arguing for the importance of categories of expe-rience – such as the literary text – that cultural studies has often setaside. Turner traces the history of ‘critical literacy’ from the perceived‘dumbing down’ in the turn to popular culture, through to the viewin media and cultural studies that English studies were simply a sitefor colonization. He interrogates the idea of critical literacy from twosides. On the one hand, the perception of language as central preventsunderstanding of specific media. On the other, in the classroom a focuson critical literacy has led to repetitive, routine exercises; to spottingtargeted ideologies; and to choosing between models of reception fortexts. Hoggart used a more humanistic vocabulary and spoke of creativ-ity and imagination, but this has largely been lost: pleasure in reading
  29. 29. 16 Introductionrarely rates a mention. Those who have ‘updated’ the curriculum bearresponsibility for implying English no longer has content. The ‘Human-ities’ have been usurped by a Social Sciences model. Humanistic, ethicaland moral reflections such as those offered by Hoggart have been side-lined in favour of methodological outcomes. We have lost the idea thatboth literary and popular culture may offer dimensions of experienceworth having for their own sake. Structure has usurped content, andgenuine cultural literacy has been lost. Hoggart’s ideas point the way toa re-evaluation. Melissa Gregg discusses ‘the importance of being ordinary’. Anti-elitistdiscourse in politics often misses the dignity of the individual and thevariety and depth in working-class culture. Hoggart’s focus on ordinar-iness in The Uses of Literacy is different. He reveals the narrowness ofscholarly boundaries, according to which only the exceptional had beenworth studying. Hoggart is more interested in home and neighbour-hood than in politics. His politics of empathy is directed to the majoritywho take their lives much as they find them. He establishes ordinarinessas a key facet of cultural studies’ concerns. He makes the relationshipbetween analyst and the analysed convivial. He engages the reader withordinary attitudes. But whereas for Hoggart ordinariness increases empa-thy, in Australian politics, at the time of writing, ordinariness deniesempathy and is used against perceived excesses of political correctness,or outsiders such as Muslims. Change involves envisaging what it is liketo be disadvantaged. Hoggart offers the ‘landscape with figures’ neces-sary to imagine what it would be like to live differently and provides thehumane connections disavowed in politicians’ objectifications. Greggargues for the need to reinstate the concept of ordinariness put forwardby Hoggart and Raymond Williams as against the notion of the ‘every-day’, based on the ideas of Lefebvre, which has predominated in culturalstudies. Mark Gibson asks whether Hoggart’s ideas can be made to travel,given his ‘Englishness’, a quiet confidence in the value of English socialpatterns. In some respects Gibson’s argument echoes Collini’s here.Gibson examines claims (e.g. by Perry Anderson) linking Hoggart toconservatism, and criticism of him (e.g. by Gilroy) for ignoring theblack community. But Gibson rejects the idea of Hoggart as conser-vative, showing how his regard for English traditions sits alongsideprogressivism. Gibson discusses ‘Hoggartian’ writers in Australia (CraigMcGregor and Donald Horne), showing how they share Hoggart’s inter-est in the ordinary and arguing that literacy must begin from theordinary. Hoggart celebrates specificity; but at the same time his ideas
  30. 30. Sue Owen 17relate to the common cultural history of England and Australia. Hoggart’sideas can be used to remind Australians of the dangers of missing thepossibilities in the ordinary; and to help guard against excessive suspi-cion of Englishness. A more complex understanding of Englishness canhelp develop cultural literacies in Australia. Charlie Ellis’s argument carries on from Collini’s and Gibson’s, sincehe discusses Hoggart’s possible conservatism. He anatomises Hoggart’sblend of conservative anger at Britain’s cultural decline and self-definition as a moderate leftist. He considers Hoggart’s critique ofconservatism in Farnham: A Landscape with Figures (a text few criticshave discussed). He explores Hoggart’s socially liberal values and hisdefence of D. H. Lawrence. He notes that Hoggart found a grain of truthin Mary Whitehouse’s critique of shallowness, even whilst disagreeingwith her values. Hoggart’s demon is moral gutlessness and he sees a needto make choices and not be led by purse-power. He sees the free marketas leading to social stratification and the creation of an underclass, andthese concerns far outstrip his fears about decline. Hoggart is thereforeliberal in some spheres and conservative in others, and Ellis aligns himwith ‘Left Conservatives’ such as George Orwell and Jeremy Seabrook.This does not detract from the force of his message: Hoggart embodies a‘conserving radicalism’, fundamentally at odds with the market-drivenpolitics of the contemporary Conservative movement. Bill Hughes sees Hoggart as being on the Left, politically. DespiteHoggart’s own rejection of Marxism and his rejection by Marxists inthe 1970s, Hughes sees his work as being within a Marxist framework.Hughes rejects Althusserian Marxism and Marxisant varieties of post-modernism and returns to Marx, showing that both Marx and Hoggartdefended Art in a wider sense against narrow notions of utility. Hughesargues that Hoggart reasserts use value against cynical production of cul-tural objects as items for exchange and reasserts cultural value againstrelativism. He argues for a rehabilitation of the defence of literary value(often seen as elitist). He strives to liberate Hoggart from charges ofuncritical empiricism through a comparison of Hoggart and Adorno.Hughes also, like Turner, connects these ideas about value to Hoggart’sthinking about education. Sue Owen considers Hoggart’s treatment of women and the recep-tion of his work by feminists. She identifies ways in which Hoggart’swriting prefigured feminism: his humane approach to the study of theworking-class and popular culture, his refusal to oversimplify and hisresistance of totalizing judgements about ‘the masses’. Hoggart’s seemsproto-feminist in using personal pain as a springboard for politically
  31. 31. 18 Introductionengaged meditations (for example in the description of his mother’s suf-ferings and death in Uses) and in finding wider significance in particularlives. Hoggart’s method is to look for meaning in the personal and toextrapolate social significance from minutely observed detail. The Uses ofLiteracy is marked by a capacity for feeling and a domestic focus typical of1980s feminists, of the empirical, British kind. Hoggart’s response to crit-icisms of his lack of emphasis on the politically active working class wasilluminating: ‘my own experience had been overwhelmingly domestic,internal, home and woman-centred’. It might be thought that Hoggart’scelebration of the capacity for feeling and his domestic focus would haveresonated with feminists, at least the empirical, British kind. But fem-inists such as Beatrix Campbell and Carolyn Steedman have criticizedHoggart, and their misreadings have coloured views of him since the1980s. Owen offers a detailed comparative analysis of Hoggart’s writingand that of Steedman and Campbell. She argues for the achievement andhistorical importance of these two writers but rejects their oversimplifiedcritique of Hoggart. Feminist misreadings of Hoggart may be due in part to failure to relateto his style, particularly the muting of personal pain. Writing beforethe licensed rage of identity politics, Hoggart achieves a tone that isjudicious with an undertone of restrained passion. Sympathy is bal-anced by detached, ironic observation. If Hoggart’s method resembles1980s Anglo-feminism, it is also opposite in its striving for detachmentand objectivity. It is this combination of ‘distancing and participation’which Passeron, cited earlier, finds peculiarly effective. Thus, all the con-tributors to this volume from disparate perspectives unite not only toestablish Hoggart’s reputation beyond a shadow of a doubt but also topoint to a method of humane and scrupulous cultural analysis whichcan offer hope for the future.Notes1. The Daily Herald called Hoggart ‘an angry young man’ and printed a follow-up quiz, inspired by his ideas and purporting to explore contemporary social atti- tudes: H. Ritchie, Success Stories: Literature and the Media in England, 1950–1959 (London: Faber, 1988), 35. The book was reviewed in the Radio on 10/3/57 and again, after the paperback appeared, on 2/3/58. It served as the focus for a discussion forum on 19/1/58 and Hoggart made many guest broadcasts from 1957 onwards to talk about the effects of modern media on the traditional working class. Jones, 1998, Appendix: Broadcasts, 48.2. Other works by Hoggart were translated into Danish, Dutch, German and Spanish, but not Uses: Jones, 1998, 41–44.
  32. 32. Sue Owen 193. See David Lodge, ‘Richard Hoggart: a Personal Appreciation’, International Journal of Cultural Studies: Special Issue: The Uses of Richard Hoggart ed. Sue Owen and John Hartley, 10.1 (March 2007), 29–38. Alan Bennett, Untold Stories (London: Faber and Faber, 2005), 402.4. The Tyranny of Relativism is the title of the American edition of Hoggart’s The Way We Live Now (N. Brunswick: Transaction, 1998).5. The only problem with Passeron’s analysis is a tendency to deplore the petit- bourgeoisie, which Hoggart himself never does, and to attribute to them the mindless craving for escapism which petit-bourgeois intellectuals falsely attribute to the working class.6. See also Hoggart, 1992, chapter 4: ‘Great Hopes from Birmingham’.7. 1963, 241–42. He elaborates the distinction between literary and sociological methods in ‘The Literary Imagination and the Sociological Imagination’; given as a talk to the Sociology Section of the British Association at its 1967 annual conference, distributed as a pamphlet and reprinted in Speaking to Each Other, Vol. II, 244–258.8. Whilst Lee’s and Grossberg’s chapters appear here, Rosenfeld’s is to be found in Re-Reading Richard Hoggart, ed. Sue Owen (Cambridge Scholars Press: 2008). This volume includes a range of essays on Hoggart’s life and contribution to Literature, Language and Education.Works citedCollini, Stefan. (1999). ‘Critical Minds: Raymond Williams and Richard Hoggart’, English Pasts, Oxford: OUP. chapter 11.Gaboriau, Patrick and Philippe Gaboriau. (1991). ‘Popular Culture Studies in France’, Journal of Popular Culture 24.4, Spring, 177–81.Hoggart, Richard. (1957). The Uses of Literacy: Aspects of Working Class Life with Special Reference to Publications and Entertainments, London: Chatto and Windus.——(1963). ‘Schools of English and Contemporary Society’, Inaugural Lecture at University of Birmingham, in Speaking to Each Other, Vol. 2: ‘About Literature’. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973, first pub. 1970, 231–43.——(1991). A Sort of Clowning: Life and Times, Vol. II: 1940–1959. Oxford: OUP. First pub. 1990.——(1993). An Imagined Life: Life And Times, Vol. III: 1959–91. Oxford: OUP. First pub. 1992.——(1995). The Way We Live Now. London: Chatto & Windus.Jones, Marilyn. (1998). Richard Hoggart: Bibliography. In Hoggart Archive at University of Sheffield.Mulhern, Francis. (2000). Culture/Metaculture. London: Routledge.Jean-Claude Passeron. (1971). ‘Introduction to the French Edition of Uses of Literacy’, Working Papers on Cultural Studies (Spring) 120–31. First pub. as Intro- duction to La Culture de Pauvre: Etude sur le Style de Vie des Classes Populaires en Angleterre. Paris: Editions Minuit, 1970.
  33. 33. 1Richard Hoggart, The Uses ofLiteracy and The Cultural TurnStuart HallIt is widely recognized that, without Richard Hoggart, there would havebeen no Centre for cultural studies. It is not always so widely acknowl-edged that without The Uses of Literacy there would have been no culturalstudies. In an early text, I called it one of cultural studies’ three ‘foundingtexts’ (Hall, 1980), and this is an opportunity to expand further on thatjudgement. The paper therefore offers some reflections on the ‘moment’of The Uses of Literacy – what early cultural studies learned from andowed, methodologically, to the book, its connections with wider debatesat the time and its formative role in what came to be known as ‘the cul-tural turn’. The latter phrase is the kind of clumsy abstraction RichardHoggart would not be caught dead using, and there is no point elaborat-ing on it conceptually here. It simply registers an inescapable fact aboutwhat I called elsewhere the growing ‘centrality of culture’ – the astonish-ing global expansion and sophistication of the cultural industries; thegrowing significance of culture for all aspects of social and economic life;its reordering effects on a variety of critical and intellectual discoursesand disciplines; its emergence as a primary and constitutive categoryof analysis and ‘the way in which culture creeps into every nook andcrevice of contemporary social life, creating a proliferation of secondaryenvironments, mediating everything’ (Hall, 1997, 215). My observationshere are premised on the assumption that something like a ‘cultural turn’did indeed occur across Western societies and their fields of knowledgejust before and, in the UK with gathering momentum, immediately afterthe Second World War; and that, in its own particular way, The Uses ofLiteracy belongs to that moment is indeed an early example of it as wellas playing a seminal role in producing it. The project of The Uses of Literacy, as we know, was many years ingestation. Originally planned as an analysis of the new forms of mass 20
  34. 34. Stuart Hall 21publishing, the radical innovation represented by Part I – the attemptto contextualize this in a deeper ‘reading’ of the culture of their readersand audiences – was only subsequently put in place. However, by itspublication in 1957, its general intention had become unmistakeable.The book attempted to provide a complex answer to these questions:what were the relations between attitudes in the popular papers andmagazines and the working-class readers to whom they were typicallyaddressed; more urgently, how are the newer, more commercially drivenforms of mass communications changing older working-class attitudesand values; what, in short, are the ‘uses’ to which this new kind of‘literacy’ was being put? Note that, in Part I of the book, the term ‘working-class culture’ seemsto apply, interchangeably, to both the typical attitudes, values, and waysof life of working people in the pre-war decades and the forms of pub-lication, entertainment, and popular culture which circulated amongstthem. Critics have pointed out that these had very different sources –the latter being produced not by working-class people themselves butby the commercial classes for the working classes; and that, as Ray-mond Williams noted in a very early review of The Uses of Literacy,‘the equation of ‘‘working class culture’’ with the mass commercial cul-ture which has increasingly dominated our century’ produces damagingresults (Williams, 1957, 30). Nevertheless, even if he does not reduce oneto the other, Richard Hoggart does assume that, in the earlier period, asufficiently close relationship had come to exist between publicationsand their readers to allow him to represent them as constituting some-thing like ‘An ‘‘Older’’ Order’. Such a mutually reinforcing relationship,he argued, could no longer be assumed between the working classesand the new forms of mass culture; and this is the nub of the gen-eral judgement on cultural change which the book as a whole finallyoffers. This elision between what people read, what they thought and howthey lived – always a complex and much debated issue – was com-pounded by the lack in Part II of a sustained attempt ‘to describe thequality of ordinary working-class life, so that the closer analysis of pub-lications might be set into a landscape of solid earth and rock and water’(Hoggart, 1958, 324). This helped to produce the unresolved tensionbetween two, very different registers evident in the two halves of thebook. Hoggart, of course, was fully conscious of this at the time (‘twokinds of writing are to be found in the following pages’) and has fre-quently subsequently acknowledged it (Hoggart, 1992). Nevertheless, ithad its determinate effects.
  35. 35. 22 Hoggart, The Uses of Literacy and Cultural Turn In comparison with the many simplistic, reductive, nostalgic orempiricist accounts on offer, there is a complex and richly nuancedconception of cultural change at work here. The argument is not drivenby simple oppositions between old/new, organic/inorganic, elite/mass,good/bad. Hoggart was aware of the unsystematic nature of the ‘evi-dence’ and sensitive to the temptations to nostalgia: ‘I am from theworking classes . . . this very emotional involvement presents consider-able dangers’ (Hoggart, 1958, 17). He does not underplay the impactof growing affluence nor exaggerate the pace and degree of change.The language is carefully modulated in relation to the thesis of culturaldecline: The persistence in so strong a measure of older forms of speech does not indicate a powerful and vibrant continuance of an older tradition, but the tradition is not altogether dead. It is harked back to, leaned upon as a fixed and still largely trustworthy reference in a world now difficult to understand. (Hoggart, 1958, 28)‘[A]ttitudes alter more slowly than we always realize . . . ’ (Hoggart, 1958,13). Nevertheless, the overall drift of the diagnosis cannot be doubted: My argument is not that there was in England one generation ago, an urban culture still very much ‘‘of the people’’ and that now there is only a mass urban culture. It is rather that the appeals made by mass publicists are for a number of reasons made more insistently, effectively, and in a more comprehensive and centralised form than they were earlier; that we are moving towards the creation of a mass culture . . . and that the new mass culture is in some important ways less healthy than the often crude culture it is replacing. (Hoggart, 1958, 24)‘Diagnosis’ is a useful term here – the word ‘healthy’ is telling – sinceit reminds us of what this conclusion owed to, and how much it wasinfluenced by, the cultural critique offered by the Leavises and Scrutiny:the embattled position adopted in F.R. Leavis’ own cultural writing; thenarrative of decline at the heart of Q.D. Leavis’ influential Fiction and theReading Public (1932); the strenuous programme of cultural resistancewhich informed Scrutiny’s educational project and manifestos like MassCivilization and Minority Culture (Leavis, 1930); and the critique of thedebased language of advertising offered by Scrutiny-influenced writers
  36. 36. Stuart Hall 23like Denys Thompson and others. The book also shared much commonground with the pessimistic critique of mass culture offered by con-servative critics and writers, some of them American. Quotations fromde Toqueville, Arnold, Benda, Lawrence, Eliot, John Dewey, Ortega yGasset, and so on lend authority to the narrative of cultural decline).Mulhern, in his sustained assault on cultural studies in all its mani-festations, is at pains to show that however much anyone – apart fromRaymond Williams – struggled to break free from what he calls the meta-cultural discourse of ‘Kulturkritik’, they were doomed to repeat it. Whileacknowledging that Hoggart made serious efforts to counter this ten-dency, Mulhern insists that his ‘discursive affiliation’ with this traditionremains intact (Mulhern, 2000). However, as Mulhern himself acknowledges, ‘Genealogy is not des-tiny’ (Mulhern, 2000, 174). Leaving aside the assumption which governsMulhern’s discourse – namely that an always-already alternative culturaltheory was already available, in a complex Marxism already wise to itsown tendency to reductionism – what seems more interesting is to notethe ways The Uses of Literacy, in trying to break from this master-discourseof cultural decline, was precisely ‘a text of the break’ (as Mulhern rec-ognizes Raymond Williams’ The Long Revolution also was); and for thatvery reason opened possibilities which cultural studies and ‘the culturalturn’ were subsequently to build on. The dominant Scrutiny narrative was constructed on the back of anunspoken assumption about the limited cultural resources and restrictedmoral universe of working-class readers and audiences. Only Scrutiny’s‘saving remnant’, whose sensibilities had been refined by a long cohabi-tation with the authority which the literary tradition offered and whosemoral backbone had been stiffened by strenuous and sustained criticalengagement with litcrit. (‘This is so, is it not?’), offered a site of resistanceto the mass appeals and blandishments of the new, debased culture.Hoggart’s account is aware of the limitations of that starting point. I am inclined to think that books on popular culture often lose some of their force by not making sufficiently clear what is meant by ‘‘the peo- ple’’, by inadequately relating their examination of particular aspects of ‘‘the people’s’’ life to the wider life they live, and to the attitudes they bring to their entertainments.Even George Orwell, whose studies on popular culture were in someways paradigmatic, ‘never quite lost the habit of seeing the working classthrough the cosy fug of an Edwardian music hall’ (Hoggart, 1958, 9, 15).
  37. 37. 24 Hoggart, The Uses of Literacy and Cultural Turn On the contrary, the implied argument in The Uses of Literacy runs,working-class audiences are not empty vessels on which the middleclasses and the mass media can project, tabula rasa, whatever they want.They are not simply the products of ‘false consciousness’ or ‘culturaldopes’ (Hall, 1981). They have a ‘culture’ of their own which, though itmay lack the sophistication and authority afforded by the literary tradi-tion and is certainly not unified, is in its own way just as dense, complexand richly articulated, morally, as that of the educated classes. It fol-lows that the effects of cultural products cannot be ‘read off’ or inferreddirectly from the contents of what is produced for them to consumebecause to have ‘social effects’ of any depth they must enter into and bein active negotiation with an already fully elaborated social and culturalworld. Reading, in this sense, is always a cultural practice. Apart from anything else, this contains a salutary lesson – indeed, aprofound conceptual insight – about how social ideologies actually work.If the ‘older’ popular culture, however commercially organized and crudein its appeals, seemed less of an ‘assault from the outside’, this was notbecause it was an authentic product of that culture or because it couldsimply be imposed on working-class audiences but because it was closerto – mirrored more faithfully or, better still, worked more ‘authentically’along the groove of – the habits, attitudes and unspoken assumptions ofworking-class cultures, and had more fully ‘indigenised’ itself, by longcohabitation, as it were, within the complex history of the formationsof an urban-industrial corporate class. If the new forms of mass culturewere effecting change, then, it could only be because they too addressedthemselves to the lived textures and complex attitudes of the culturein which they sought to embed themselves; working along its grooves,while at the same time inflecting and disconnecting them, dislodgingthem, from within and attaching them to new modes of feeling, habits,and judgements – ‘unbending the springs of action’. It is pertinent to ask, then, not only how much this owed to andderived from the discourse of ‘Kulturkritik’ but how far and in whatsignificant ways did it break with that discourse? What were the method-ological and conceptual innovations implicit in its practice of writingand thinking on which new directions could be built? One can list themwithout elaboration. A conception of ‘culture’ very different from thatwhich animates the tradition of Kulturkritik is at work here. By ‘culture’,Hoggart meant how working-class people spoke and thought, what lan-guage and common assumptions about life they shared, in speech andaction, what social attitudes informed their daily practice, what moralcategories they deployed, even if only aphoristically, to make judgements
  38. 38. Stuart Hall 25about their own behaviour and that of others – including, of course, howthey brought all this to bear on what they read, saw and sang. This viewof culture as the practices of ‘making sense’ was very far removed indeedfrom ‘culture’ as the ideal court of judgement, whose touchstone was‘the best that has been thought and said’, which animated the traditionfrom Arnold to Eliot and Leavis. The aim to make culture in this lattersense a central and necessary part of the object of study, however fit-fully achieved, was as defining a break as Williams’ third definition inThe Long Revolution – culture as ‘ways of life’ – and moreover, despitesignificant differences, a break moving in a parallel direction. This was aformative moment for cultural studies. There was a profound insight embedded here which runs like a threadthrough the subsequent twists and turns of cultural studies. It poseda critical challenge. It set cultural analysis irrevocably against any ten-dency to reductionism – whether to pure ideology, ‘the economy’ or‘class interests’ (while not denying that social interests have a bearingon how ideologies and culture develop or that social location is signifi-cant for which ideas are taken up and made effective). Of course, this hadconsequences for its theoretical work. The relation between the culturaland the social could not be assumed; and, since it did not operate auto-matically – as what Marx once called ‘the reflex’ of the economy in thesphere of thought – it had to be re-conceptualized, in all its concretenessand historical specificity. Culture did not consist of free-floating ideas; ithad to be understood as embedded in social practices. But it was some-thing other than a reflection of some more determinate ‘base’ in somedependent ‘superstructure’. The question of the Centre’s relation to clas-sical Marxism is written into this conceptual conundrum, and begins toexplain why the Centre went on such a long theoretical ‘detour’ [sic]. Secondly, there was the insistence that ‘ways of life’ had to be studiedin and for themselves, as a necessary contextualizing of any attempt tounderstand cultural change, and not inferred from textual analysis alone.We may call this the social imperative at the heart of Hoggart’s method;and from such origins the interdisciplinary character of cultural studies(which has since been somewhat obscured by the Humanities deluge)derived. Thirdly, there was the emphasis on culture as primarily a matterof meaning: not meanings as free-floating ‘values’ or as ideals embod-ied in texts but as part of lived experience, shaping social practice andinscribed in social structures, institutions and relations: cultural analysisas ‘the clarification of the meanings and values implicit and explicit ina particular way of life’ (Williams, 1965, 57) to which E.P. Thompson,with his more acute consciousness of class, insisted, ‘ways of life’.
  39. 39. 26 Hoggart, The Uses of Literacy and Cultural Turn Fourthly, there was the methodological innovation evidenced inHoggart’s adaptation of the literary-critical method of ‘close reading’ tothe sociological task of interpreting the lived meanings of a culture. Onesays ‘sociological’, but clearly something more innovative than stan-dard empirical sociological methods was required. Nothing less thana kind of ‘social hermeneutics’ is implied in these interpretive proce-dures: ‘we have to try to see beyond the habits to what the habits standfor, to see through the statements to what the statements really mean(which may be the opposite of the statements themselves), to detect thediffering pressures of emotion behind idiomatic phrases and ritualisticobservances’ (Hoggart, 1958, 17). Of course, ‘reading the culture frominside’ was possible for Hoggart, with his working-class background, hisrich childhood memories and experiences, to draw on. Students tryingto follow the book’s methodological imperatives and staff attempting toteach students how to apply them to a piece of work – things which theestablishment of ‘a centre’ required – were not so fortunate and requiredmore stringent pedagogic protocols. This methodological requirementwas implicit in the establishment of ‘a Centre’ from the very begin-ning. In its earliest days, the Centre established two working groups toaddress such issues: in one, which I chaired – an attempt to clarify thesocial/cultural relationship and how it could be thought – the readingranged far and wide over ‘other disciplines’: the point where the trans-disciplinary and theoretical aspects of cultural studies were first joined.In the second, Richard Hoggart took students through a close reading ofsuch texts as Blake’s Tiger, Tiger, the opening of Sons and Lovers, Orwell’sShooting an Elephant, Sylvia Plath’s Daddy ‘reading for tone’ – that is, formodes of address and implied attitudes to the audience. But these wereearly days. Much that followed in the evolution of cultural studies in the 1970sand 1980s were therefore developments of the mixed and incompleteopenings offered by The Uses of Literacy as a ‘text of the break’: resistingits cultural narrative, while deepening the epistemological breaks whichits methodological innovations exemplified. Many of these leads were,admittedly, not very conceptually developed, even in the ‘Schools ofEnglish and Contemporary Society’ lecture, which mapped out the Cen-tre’s initial programme (Hoggart, 1970). However, when the complaintabout ‘the turn to theory’ in cultural studies is made – and Hoggart him-self has made it in its sharpest form – it is difficult to see where else theCentre could have begun other than by deepening these moves by way ofsustained conceptual interrogation and methodological self-reflection –as it were, ‘working on the break’.
  40. 40. Stuart Hall 27 Thus, to take some examples, the move to cultural studies as a fullyinterdisciplinary enterprise and the break with ‘the literary’ as its gov-erning discourse was implicit in the injunction to study the society andthe culture as ‘lived’ equally with its texts, and was extensively taken upin various ways in the work of the Centre in the 1970s: though noth-ing in The Uses of Literacy took us quite as far as Williams’ ‘theory ofculture as a study of relationships between elements in a whole way oflife’ (Williams, 1965, 63) or, as we tried to translate that in the 1970s,the study of ‘the cultural’ and its relation to other practices in a socialformation. The trace of the ‘literary’ remained in Hoggart’s close and sensitiveattention to language and his insistence (in his inaugural lecture) thatpopular and mass cultural texts must be understood as functioning ‘asart – even as bad art’: a comment which, whilst not quite bypassingthe traditional high/low good/bad categories of the mass culture debate,reinforced attention to language as a cultural model and the symbolicmodality in which culture operates. This connects with the persistentreturn, via the dialogue with semiotics, post-structuralism and theories ofdiscourse, to the necessary ‘delay through the symbolic’ without whichall cultural studies threatens to become reductionist (Hall, 2006). Thenotion that audiences actively bring something to, rather than simplybeing spoken to by, texts – that ‘reading’ is a social practice, an activeexchange – was taken up in the critique of the dominant ‘effects’ tra-dition in mass communications research which organized much of theCentre’s early research projects. It certainly underpins my own workon the ‘encoding/decoding model’ (Hall, 1980), and was subsequentlyrevived in the productive encounter with Bakhtin’s idea of the dialogic,in the ‘active audience’, reader-response approaches, and can be tracedeven in the elements of overkill in the so-called ‘populist’ emphases oflater work on audiences and popular culture. The legacy of culture as the interpretive study of meanings embed-ded in ‘ways of life’ is to be found in the many studies which deployedethnographic, participant observation and other anthropological tech-niques associated with what Clifford Geertz called ‘thick description’and, beyond that, took us to the language of ‘signifying practices’. Theview that textual materials only have real social effectivity when they‘work along the groove’ of existing attitudes and inflect them in newdirections contains a model of how social ideologies really achieve theireffects much in advance of existing models of influence, ideologicaldomination and false consciousness; anticipating much that was to fol-low in theories of multi-accentuality and transcoding, and the impact
  41. 41. 28 Hoggart, The Uses of Literacy and Cultural Turnon cultural studies of the more fully developed Gramscian model of‘hegemony’ and cultural power as dependent on ‘the wining of con-sent’, Althusser’s ‘three practices’ and ‘over-determination’, and a verydifferent conception of the popular (see Hall, 1981). And so on. The publication of The Uses of Literacy had an enormous impact: in partfor the intrinsic interest, quality and originality of its method and argu-ment; and in part because of its bearing on wider discussions about thepace and direction of post-war social change. The growing commercial-ization of mass culture, the birth of television, the burgeoning of youthculture and the rise of mass consumption were part and parcel of whatcame to be known as ‘the affluent debate’. The impact of these forceson the working class had particular resonance for the Labour Party, itselectoral prospects and what Anthony Crosland, in his prophetic book,called The Future of Socialism. Was the class basis of Labour’s supportbeing eroded by socio-cultural change? True, culture had played a some-what residual role in Labour thinking. The roots of ‘Labourism’ in thedense, defensive, subaltern, corporate structures of working-class culturehad not been the subject of much serious reflection until exposed by thenewer class attitudes and values emerging with the onset of commercial-ization. Hoggart’s book played directly into these anxieties. These issuesfuelled the Labour Party’ revisionist debates of the late 1950s and wasthe context for influential books like Mark Abrams’ Must Labour Lose?,with its negative assessment of Labour’s prospects amongst its heartlandworking-class supporters in the wake of social change, and was summedup in Gaitskell’s famous 1959 Labour Party Conference speech, where –taking us to the heart of the culture and politics debate – he poignantlyenquired whether Labour as a political force could survive the coming of‘the car, the telly, the washing machine and the fridge’. Tony Blair’s ‘NewLabour’ and the aspirational culture have long historical antecedents inthese debates. Richard Hoggart did not directly address these questions, and working-class politics did not figure largely in the book. As is well known, hechose to concentrate on the majority to whom the appeals of the masspublicists were primarily addressed and deliberately downplayed therole of what he called ‘the purposive, the political, the pious and theself-improving minorities’ (Hoggart, 1958, 22): contrary to, say, Ray-mond Williams, who regarded politics as part of the ‘high working classtradition’ and the building of political institutions as among its mostoutstanding cultural achievements (‘an extension of primary values intothe social fields’ (Williams, 1957, 31). Yet the opening paragraphs of TheUses of Literacy show that Hoggart’s argument took its bearings from the
  42. 42. Stuart Hall 29broader debate about post-war affluence and what came to be knownas working-class ‘embourgeoisement’. ‘It is often said that there are noworking-classes in England now, that a ‘‘bloodless revolution’’ has takenplace which has so reduced social differences that already most of usinhabit an almost flat plain, the plain of the lower middle- to middle-classes . . . We are likely to be struck by the extent to which working-classpeople have improved their lot, acquired more power and more pos-sessions . . . no longer feel themselves members of ‘‘the lower orders . . . ’’ ’(Hoggart, 1958, 14). The conclusion is, of course, measured and complex,but unmistakeable in its thrust: ‘We may now see that in at least onesense we are indeed becoming classless . . . We are becoming culturallyclassless’ (Hoggart, 1958, 142). This became a focus of debate in early NewLeft circles, though what I called ‘a sense of classlessness’ had acquiredthere a wider and more critical meaning (see Hall, 1958, and the shockedresponses by Raphael Samuel, 1959, and Edward Thompson, 1959). The broader connections between cultural studies and the ‘first’ NewLeft have been widely noted (Hall, 1989). In particular, The Uses of Lit-eracy also had a formative influence on the milieu which I inhabited inthe period of its publication – principally because, for fortuitous reasons,such concerns as the changing nature of contemporary capitalism, theconsequences of the new consumerism, the politics of post-war socialchange and the relationship of politics to culture formed critical con-tested ground in the heady debates of the time. A nascent ‘new left’had emerged in Oxford as a distinct, informal student formation in themid-1950s. Its subsequent coalescence with others into a movementwas triggered by the events of 1956 – the invasion of the Suez Canal byBritain, France and Israel and the brutal Soviet response to the Hungar-ian Revolution, and their effects in loosening the grip of the Cold Waron political debate (Hall, 1989). The publication of The Uses of Literacy made a huge impact in thesecircles. There was a vigorous discussion in progress, amongst studentsfrom a variety of Left tendencies in Oxford, about the nature of post-war capitalism, the character of the historic compromise represented bythe welfare state, the changing nature of class, the nature of the Sovietexperiment, the impact of the Cold War, the revival of imperialism, thevalue of Marxism and the prospects for the Left in these new historicconditions. Many of its members were literary critics and familiar withthe Leavis/Scrutiny argument about mass culture, though the majorityhad largely rejected both its assumptions about cultural decline andthe elitist and the conservative character of its programme of culturalresistance. Some people were already in conversation with Raymond