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Raymond Williams’ ‘Culture is Ordinary’

  • Word Count: 1219
  • Approx Pages: 5
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             Raymond Williams' (1921 - 1988) essay 'Culture is Ordinary' was written in
             1958, a decade that was significant for its rise of commercial media and
             popular art in Western Society. In order to maintain a clear distinction
             between Popular Arts and High Arts, F.R Leavis (1895-1978) introduced his
             traditional definition of 'culture' inspired by Matthew Arnold (1822-1888).
             According to Williams' critique on Leavis and Arnold, this paper will
             discuss Arnold's and Leavis' classical ideas of culture and contrast those
             with Williams' anthropological definition of culture in order to highlight
             to what extent Williams contributed crucially to traditional Cultural
             Studies. In order to illustrate Williams' idea of ordinary culture, I will
             draw upon the British stencil street artist Robert Banks, also known as
             'Banksy'. By arguing that street art embodies social movement and a
             resistance towards a hegemonic culture, I will outline that the working-
             class has therefore its own meaningful cultural institutions which
             contribute to the shaping of contemporary culture. In conclusion, I will
             state that any other definition of culture is discriminating towards any
             other societies and cultures worldwide.
             According to Leavis 'culture' is the intellectual interaction between the
             educated mind and traditional English literature. The use of its fine
             language is significant in order to create a culture with the experience of
             history given in literature (Leavis, 1972). Leavis experienced the
             traditional English culture as threatened by changes of genre, language and
             fragmentation in literature, whereby the increased mass media cause a loss
             of "intelligence, memory and moral purpose" (Leavis, 1972: 202). According
             to Williams however, 'culture' is an unstable mode that moves
             simultaneously with social changes and is therefore subject to continual
             reinterpretation, hen...

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Raymond Williams’ ‘Culture is Ordinary’. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 04:32, October 25, 2016, from