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Raymond Williams’ ‘Culture is Ordinary’

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, hence, a "dying culture" is impossible since a form ...

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Raymond Williams’ ‘Culture is Ordinary’. (1969, December 31). In DirectEssays.com. Retrieved 11:40, August 22, 2014, from http://www.megaessays.com/viewpaper/203996.html