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
2
Riding Relativisms Wave
2
i Them and Us
2
ii Just Us or Just Them
2
iii Mary and Martha
13
ASPECTS OF THE DOMINANT MOOD
21
Distortions of Education
23
i The Climate
24
GRIT ON THE FLYWHEEL
193
Home Thoughts OldStyle Checks and Balances
195
From Class to Status Resistance by Transference
200
ii Status and LifeStyle
204
iii Piggybacks Partial Profiles and Emotional Energy
211
Patrons and Sponsors
215
i Why Give at all in an Open Society?
216
ii Class Education the Arts and Public Duty
220

ii Schools
28
the Cinderella
39
the Universities
42
v Adult Education Today
51
The Arts Intellectual Artistic and Academic Relativism
57
ii Reading
67
iii Literary Essences
77
Meaning and Modern Theory
84
v Literary Influences
90
Angles on Mass and Popular Culture
98
i Characteristics of Mass Culture
99
ii Elements of Popular Culture
104
The Betrayal of Broadcasting
116
ii Radio
128
iii Television
135
iv Broadcasting and the Arts
140
v The 1990 Broadcasting Act and After
146
vi Conclusion
154
Misuses of Language
159
i Linguistic Tics
160
ii Dodging Reality and Judgment
162
iii Language and Ideology
165
iv Hospital Kindly Gentility
168
v Embarrassed by the Words
169
Ways of Looking Compass Bearings in a WideOpen Society?
174
ii Where Did it All Begin?
176
iii Theory? Naturally
179
iv Elements of Cultural Reading
181
v Some Rules of Thumb
184
vi Instances of Surprise
191
iii Grassroots Ethnic Arts and their Claims
225
iv Confused Alarms of Struggle and Fight
226
v Patronage and Sponsorship
228
vi Who Should Get What and How?
233
vii Spreading Your Arts Abroad
239
Effects of Mass Media Kinds of Censorship a Bakers Dozen
245
i Counterweights and Contradictions Again
246
ii Effects Broadcasting and Elsewhere
248
iii Kinds of Censorship
251
iv Am I My Brothers Keeper
268
Ancestral Voices Myths and Mottoes to Live By
270
ii Sophisticated Memories
275
iii Three Types of Aphorism
277
iv Walking on the Water
280
WHO NEEDS A CLERISY?
283
Democratic Representations and Democratic Spirits
285
i Confrontation Consensus and Cohesion
287
ii Jude and His Kind
298
Diverse Voices and Opinion Formers
302
i A Mixed Bunch Mainly Official
304
ii Reviewers and Some Critics
307
iii No Committees Please Were English
313
iv Jobs for Intellectuals?
314
A SUMMINGUP AND A VERY QUALIFIED PROSPECTUS
321
Where are We and Where Do We Go from Here?
323
ii Old Strengths
331
iii New Opportunities
334
iv What to Do About It? or Lets Put Out the Lights and Go to Sleep?
337
Index
343
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