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Raymond Williams’ ‘Culture is Ordinary’

  • Word Count: 1219
  • Approx Pages: 5
  • Has Bibliography

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 Retrieved 15:50, July 26, 2016, from