Posted by gadfly on 七月 28th, 2009 filed in 抄书笔记

The aim was to inaugurate research in the area of contemporary culture and society: cultural forms, practices and institutions, their relation to society and social change. Pvi

The Centre was intended to provide a base for the serious analysis of these questions, within the framework of higher education, and in a centre principally devoted to postgraduate research.


Cultural Studies is not, however, a ‘discipline’, but an area where different disciplines intersect in the study of the cultural aspects of society.

We wanted to stress the necessarily open, provisional nature of work in a novel and emergent area like Cultural Studies.  Ix


we tried not to make the mistake of confusing these starting positions— over which we had relatively little control—with a theoretically informed definition of Cultural Studies as such. Hence, the journal specifically refused, at the outset, to be a vehicle for defining the range and scope of Cultural Studies in a definitive or absolute way. We rejected, in short, a descriptive definition or prescription of the field. It followed that, though the journal did not offer itself as a conclusive definition of Cultural Studies, it did confront, from its first issue, the consequences of this refusal: namely, the need for a sustained work of theoretical clarification.


On the other hand, the journal was conceived as an intellectual intervention. It aimed to define and to occupy a space.


The search for origins is tempting but illusory. In intellectual matters absolute beginnings are exceedingly rare. We find, instead, continuities and breaks. New interventions reflect events outside a discipline but have effects within it. They most often work to reorganize a set of problems or field of inquiry. They reconstitute existing knowledge under the sign of new questions. They dispose existing elements into new configurations, establish new points of departure.


Cultural Studies, in its institutional manifestation, was the result of such a break in the 1960s. But the field in which this intervention was made had been initially charted in the 1950s. This earlier founding moment is best specified in terms of the originating texts, the original ‘curriculum’, of the field—Hoggart’s The Uses of Literacy, Raymond Williams’s Culture and Society and The Long Revolution, E.P.Thompson’s critique of the latter work and the ‘example’ of related questions, worked in a more historical mode, in The Making of the English Working Class.  P3


These were not textbooks for the inauguration of a new discipline: though they were the results of disciplined intellectual work of a high order. They were responses of different kinds to a decisive historical conjecture. They brought disciplined thought to bear on the understanding of their own times. They were far from neutral or scholarly: they were cultural interventions in their own right. They addressed the long-term shifts taking place in British society and culture within the framework of a long, retrospective, historical glance. P4

‘there is no such thing as economic growth which is not, at the same time, growth and change of a culture…. P4 转引

Each of the texts mentioned above referred itself and its readers to existing traditions of thought. The Uses of Literacy, which attempted to chart the process of change within the traditional cultures of the urban working class, employed methods similar to those developed by Leavis and the Scrutiny critics, attempting to rework their procedures and methods so as to apply them to the study of living class cultures.

The Uses of Literacy refused many of Leavis’s embedded cultural judgements. But it did attempt to deploy literary criticism to ‘read’ the emblems, idioms, social arrangements, the lived cultures and ‘languages’ of working class life, as particular kinds of ‘text’, as a privileged sort of cultural evidence. In this sense, it continued ‘a tradition’ while seeking, in practice, to transform it.



What united these various writers into a ‘culture-and society’ tradition, in Williams’s view, was not their particular, often very different, actual positions and judgements, but the mode of sustained reflection they gave to qualitative questions about the impact on culture of the historic transformations of the past.

It shifted the whole ground of debate from a literary-moral to an anthropological definition of culture. But it defined the latter now as the ‘whole process’ by means of which meanings and definitions are socially constructed and historically transformed, with literature and art as only one, specially privileged, kind of social communication.


It also obliquely—by demonstration, as it were—challenged the narrow, elitist conception of ‘culture’ enshrined in the Leavisite tradition, as well as the rather evolutionary approach which sometimes marked Williams’s Long Revolution. It affirmed, directly, the relevance of historical work to the task of analysing the present. Thompson insisted on the historical specificity of culture, on its plural, not singular, definition—‘cultures’, not ‘Culture’: above all, on the necessary struggle, tension and conflict between cultures and their links to class cultures, class formations and class struggles—the struggles between ‘ways of life’ rather than the evolution of ‘a way of life’. These were seminal qualifications. All these works, then, implied a radical break with previous conceptualizations. They inflected the term ‘culture’ away from its traditional moorings, getting behind the inert sense of ‘period’ which sustained the text/ context distinction, moving the argument into the wider field of social practices and historical processes. It was difficult, at first, to give these breaks a precise location in any single disciplinary field. They appeared to be distinctive precisely in the ways in which they broke across and cut between the disciplinary empires. They were, for the moment, defined as ‘sociological’ in a loose sense—without, of course, being ‘proper’ sociology.


it preferred a methodology—the method of the social sciences— modeled on a highly outdated version of the natural sciences, militantly empiricist and quantitative. 文化研究与质性方法论

Perry Anderson has—in our view, correctly—argued that such sociology could produce no concept of ‘totality’ and, without that, no concept of ‘culture’ either.


One way of thinking of Cultural Studies is as the intellectual space where the convergences between these displaced traditions occurred. ‘Driven out of any obvious habits, the notion of totality found refuge in the least expected of studies….’

It indexed Cultural Studies as primarily concerned with ‘neglected’ materials drawn from popular culture and the mass media, which, it suggested, provided important evidence of the new stresses and directions of contemporary culture. This gave the Centre’s initial impetus a distinctly ‘literary’ flavour’—with the Uses of Literacy as an exemplary feat. It recommended the adaptation of literary-critical methods in reading these texts for their qualitative cultural evidence: a modest proposal—in retrospect, perhaps,too modest.


传统的文学文化批评(社会-文化模式)过于精英,而社会学缺乏totality  culture等维度,且方法论上过于重视量化。

the opening of the Centre was greeted by a letter from two social scientists who issued a sort of warning: if Cultural Studies overstepped its proper limits and took on the study of contemporary society (not just its texts), without ‘proper’ scientific (that is quasiscientistic) controls, it would provoke reprisals for illegitimately crossing the territorial boundary.

Spending time analysing modern cultural forms was a positive collusion with the ‘modern disease’. They shared, in fact, with Leavis, the assumption that culture and democracy were unalterably opposed. ‘

Cultural studies then was either hopelessly unscientific or a product of the very disease it sought to diagnose—either way, a treason of the intellectuals.

Leave a Comment