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By Andrew Milner

First released in 2002. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.

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Sample text

And this is to be regretted’ (Hoggart, 1958, p. 343). Like Leavis, Hoggart was arguing a theory of cultural decline. But for Hoggart it was working-class culture, rather than that of the ‘sensitive minority’, that needed to be valorised, if only so as, in turn, to be elegised. Hoggart’s achievement was thus to divest Leavisism of much of its cultural elitism, if not perhaps of its nostalgia; Thompson’s was to divest British socialism of its Marxian economic determinism, and to make explicit what had previously only ever been an implicit—and barely acknowledged—Romanticism.

Hoggart combined an ethnographic account of Yorkshire working-class culture with Leavisite practical criticism of mass media texts. His central theme was that of the damage done to the older, inter-war working-class culture by the new print media: ‘The old forms of class culture are in danger of being replaced by a poorer kind of classless . . culture . . and this is to be regretted’ (Hoggart, 1958, p. 343). Like Leavis, Hoggart was arguing a theory of cultural decline. But for Hoggart it was working-class culture, rather than that of the ‘sensitive minority’, that needed to be valorised, if only so as, in turn, to be elegised.

The analytical logic of structuralism pointed towards a perennial search for the ideology concealed within the deep structures of the text. Thus the substantive focus remained the 40 ContCultural Theory Text Pages 4/4/03 1:42 PM Page 41 Literature and society: from culturalism to cultural materialism business as usual of the interpretation of the literary-critical canon. By contrast, the analytical logic of cultural materialism points towards a necessary decentring of texts into the contexts of their production, reproduction and consumption, of Literature into culture, of literary studies into cultural studies.

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