The Tyranny of Relativism: Culture and Politics in Contemporary English Society

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Transaction Publishers - Social Science - 352 pages

The Tyranny of Relativism is an impassioned attempt by one of England's most distinguished critics to capture the feel of British culture at the end of the twentieth century: its moods, attitudes, and institutions. Richard Hoggart presents a double argument, suggesting first that cultural dilemmas stem from a long slide towards moral relativism, as consumerism rather than authority increasingly determines the texture of life; and secondly, that despite its claims to the contrary, British Conservative governments have exploited these changes to their own ends.

Blunt and forthright, humorous and humane, Hoggart supports his themes by analyzing particular forms of change--in education at all levels, in the arts, mass and popular entertainment, in broadcasting, in the use of language, and in the uncertain base of "cultural studies" themselves. But he also shows how some social forces have worked against this monumental process: old-style checks and balances, the resistance of class sentiments, the uneasy sense of lost values. But in this series of cultural struggles, the intellectuals are noteworthy by their absence.

The great merit of "The Tyranny of Relativism "is its resistance to platitudes, and its fearless probing of thorny questions that go to the heart of Western cultural traditions for a new age. When Hoggart concludes by asking "where do we go now" no one should expect complacency. In "The Tyranny of Relativism, "Hoggart makes the reader appreciate the silent complicity of the intellectual class for the cultural rot of relativism characteristic of western culture today. The book is must reading for those engaged in cultural studies, European politics, literary criticism, and the sociology of knowledge.

 

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Contents

RELATIVISM TO OPPORTUNISM
1
Riding Relativisms Wave
3
i Them and Us
4
ii Just Us or Just Them
6
iii Mary and Martha
11
ASPECTS OF THE DOMINANT MOOD
19
Distortions of Education
21
i The Climate
22
GRIT ON THE FLYWHEEL
191
Home Thoughts OldStyle Checks and Balances
193
From Class to Status Resistance by Transference
198
ii Status and LifeStyle
202
iii Piggybacks Partial Profiles and Emotional Energy
209
Patrons and Sponsors
213
i Why Give at all in an Open Society?
214
ii Class Education the Arts and Public Duty
218

ii Schools
26
the Cinderella
37
the Universities
40
v Adult Education Today
49
The Arts Intellectual Artistic and Academic Relativism
55
ii Reading
65
iii Literary Essences
75
Meaning and Modern Theory
82
v Literary Influences
88
Angles on Mass and Popular Culture
96
i Characteristics of Mass Culture
97
ii Elements of Popular Culture
102
The Betrayal of Broadcasting
114
ii Radio
126
iii Television
133
iv Broadcasting and the Arts
138
v The 1990 Broadcasting Act and After
144
vi Conclusion
152
Misuses of Language
157
i Linguistic Tics
158
ii Dodging Reality and Judgment
160
iii Language and Ideology
163
iv Hospital Kindly Gentility
166
v Embarrassed by the Words
167
Ways of Looking Compass Bearings in a WideOpen Society?
172
ii Where Did it All Begin?
174
iii Theory? Naturally
177
iv Elements of Cultural Reading
179
v Some Rules of Thumb
182
vi Instances of Surprise
189
iii Grassroots Ethnic Arts and their Claims
223
iv Confused Alarms of Struggle and Fight
224
v Patronage and Sponsorship
226
vi Who Should Get What and How?
231
vii Spreading Your Arts Abroad
237
Effects of Mass Media Kinds of Censorship a Bakers Dozen
243
i Counterweights and Contradictions Again
244
ii Effects Broadcasting and Elsewhere
246
iii Kinds of Censorship
249
iv Am I My Brothers Keeper
266
Ancestral Voices Myths and Mottoes to Live By
268
ii Sophisticated Memories
273
iii Three Types of Aphorism
275
iv Walking on the Water
278
WHO NEEDS A CLERISY?
281
Democratic Representations and Democratic Spirits
283
i Confrontation Consensus and Cohesion
285
ii Jude and His Kind
296
Diverse Voices and Opinion Formers
300
i A Mixed Bunch Mainly Official
302
ii Reviewers and Some Critics
305
iii No Committees Please Were English
311
iv Jobs for Intellectuals?
312
A SUMMINGUP AND A VERY QUALIFIED PROSPECTUS
319
Where are We and Where Do We Go from Here?
321
ii Old Strengths
329
iii New Opportunities
332
iv What to Do About It? or Lets Put Out the Lights and Go to Sleep?
335
Index
341
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