Richard Hoggart's The Uses of Literacy Essay

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In 1957 Richard Hoggart wrote The Uses of Literacy. His book was split into two parts, the first looking at the era in which he grew up, the 1930’s and the second looking at the contemporary time, which was of course the 1950’s. the aim of the book was to analyse what Hoggart saw as the decline of the popular culture of the working class. He discussed what was ‘good’ and ‘bad’ popular culture and what part they played in the two times. These things are obviously a matter of opinion and Hoggart puts his case to argue against the changes which were occurring in the 1950’s, particularly with regards the moral standards of the mass entertainment. In this essay Hoggart’s book and arguments will be …show more content…
He is not claiming the it is the standard at that point but that it is the beginning of the decline of what he considers to be ‘good’ culture’.

To evaluate Hoggart’s distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ popular culture it seems obligatory to first consider what he means when referring to popular culture. As explained in Cultural Theory and Popular Culture An Introduction (2001: 5-6) Williams suggests four definitions for the term popular culture; ‘well liked by many people‘, ‘inferior kinds of work‘, ‘work deliberately setting out to win favour with the people‘, culture actually made by the people for themselves‘. It would be difficult to identify a single supreme characterization as a composite of several of those definitions offered is likely to represent any individual’s understanding of popular culture. It is clear that Hoggart considers the ‘good’ culture of the 1930’s to be made by the people whilst the growing popular culture of the 1950’s he regards more as setting out to be popular, he obviously also sees it as inferior.

Hoggart felt that the popular culture of the 1950’s was becoming ’bad’. He felt that the youth, who were more susceptible to the influence, had become submerged in a new mass culture, that of America. This new culture was lacking in morals and therefore as a consequence so were those who accepted it. Hoggart cited two