Cultural Studies

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By Jim McGuigan

Book Date: December three, 1992 | ISBN-10: 0415062942 | ISBN-13: 978-0415062947
This publication makes an attempt to supply an realizing of present suggestion and enquiry within the examine of pop culture and communique media. the preferred sentiments and impulses underlying neo-Gramscian cultural stories and its postmodernist versions are explored and criticized sympathetically. An uncritical and solely consumptionist pattern of research is pointed out and proven to be an unsatisfactory technique of accounting for the complicated fabric stipulations and mediations that form usual people's pleasures and possibilities for private and political expression. via attention of the paintings of Raymond Williams, Stuart corridor and "the Birmingham School", John Fiske, adolescence subcultural research, well known tv research, and matters normally concerned about public verbal exchange (including ads, arts and broadcasting regulations, children's tv, tabloid journalism, feminism and pornography, the Rushdie affair, and the cave in of communism) the writer units out a particular case for convalescing severe research of pop culture in a speedily altering, clash ridden world.

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It seeks to provide, more implicitly than explicitly, a corrective to the more ethnocentric dimensions of that discipline…. The marginalisation of ‘race’ and racism has persisted even where cultural studies have identified themselves with socialist and feminist aspirations. (1987:12)11 These criticisms, made from female and black experiences within cultural studies, and specifically from within the Birmingham Centre, are not by any means peculiar to cultural studies. Similar criticisms have been made and acted upon in the wider society, most markedly in public-sector institutions.

To take another brief example, which has a rather different provenance: Hall and Jacques approved keenly of the 1981–86 Greater London Council’s innovative cultural policies (also in Hall 1988a), more instantly recognisable as ‘popular-democratic’ than mass-mediated charitable entertainment. Unfortunately, for exactly that same kind of reason, the second Thatcher government abolished the Labourcontrolled GLC, thus demonstrating how realpolitik can obliterate popular power at a stroke. In concentrating on some of Stuart Hall’s political writings here, my aim has been to indicate the connection between contemporary cultural studies and left-democratic populism rather than to interrogate the full subtleties of his theoretical position.

In effect, Hall has addressed all three levels, with a stress, however, on the first and second. In his ‘Two paradigms’ essay (1980a), Stuart Hall very nearly abstracts cultural studies from its institutional and historical contexts: talking of cultural studies as though it were more than the work of the Birmingham Centre while, none the less, being mainly grounded in the ideational movements of that Centre. He names two paradigms, ‘culturalism’ and ‘structuralism’: the first, an indigenous British tradition emerging from the New Left of the late 1950s (the inaugural ‘texts’ of Hoggart, Williams and Thompson); the second, a French tradition imported into Britain from the 1960s and especially post-1968 (Lévi-Strauss, Barthes, Althusser).

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