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Raymond Williams on Culture and Society

Raymond Williams on Culture and Society
Essential Writings

Edited by:

January 2014 | 368 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

"The most important Marxist cultural theorist after Gramsci, Williams' contributions go well beyond the critical tradition, supplying insights of great significance for cultural sociology today... I have never read Williams without finding something worthwhile, something subtle, some idea of great importance"
- Jeffrey C. Alexander, Professor of Sociology, Yale University

Celebrating the significant intellectual legacy and enduring influence of Raymond Williams, this exciting collection introduces a whole new generation to his work.

Jim McGuigan reasserts and rebalances Williams' reputation within the social sciences by collecting and introducing key pieces of his work. Providing context and clarity he powerfully evokes the major contribution Williams has made to sociology, media and communication and cultural studies.
Powerfully asserting the on-going relevance of Williams within our contemporary neoliberal and digital age, the book:

  • Includes texts which have never been anthologised before
  • Situates Williams' work both biographically and historically
  • Provides a comprehensive introduction to Williams' social-scientific work
  • Demonstrates the enduring relevance of cultural materialism.

Original and persuasive this book will be of interest to anyone involved in theoretical and methodological modules within sociology, media and communication studies and cultural studies.

Introduction: Raymond Williams on Culture and Society
Culture is Ordinary
Mass, Masses and Mass Communication
Structure of Feeling and Selective Tradition
Advertising - The Magic System
Communication Systems
The Idea of a Common Culture
Social Darwinism
Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory
The Technology and the Society
Drama in a Dramatized Society
Communications as Cultural Science
Developments in the Sociology of Culture
Realism and Non-Naturalism
A Lecture on Realism
Means of Communication as Means of Production
'Industrial' and 'Post-Industrial' Society
The Culture of Nations
Resources for a Journey of Hope
State Culture and Beyond
The Future of Cultural Studies

Commentary on Raymond Williams tends to stress either his role in the formation of the British New Left or his intellectual status as a literary and cultural critic or his significance as a distinctively Welsh writer. The cumulative effect of McGuigan's closely argued introduction and carefully chosen set of extracts is to mount a powerful case for a surprisingly original addition to this repertoire: that of Williams as a major sociological thinker in his own right.

Andrew Milner
Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature, Monash University

The most important Marxist cultural theorist after Gramsci, Williams' contributions go well beyond the critical tradition, supplying significant insights for cultural sociology today. The structure of feeling, drama in a dramatized society, advertising as magic – these are fundamental ideas. I have never read Williams without finding something worthwhile, something subtle, some idea of great importance. 

Jeffrey C. Alexander
Professor of Sociology, Yale University

I found the materials out of date and for a more Continental audience instead of an undergraduate class. However, I have recommended to other professors teaching graduate sociology of culture classes given the collections noteworthy essays from Williams.

Mr Billy Brocato
Sociology Dept, Texas A & M Univ-Clg Station
April 19, 2015

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter One: Culture is Ordinary

Jim McGuigan

Jim McGuigan is a freelance researcher, writer and artist. He is also Emeritus Professor of Cultural Analysis at Loughborough University UK.  Previously, he taught at Coventry, Leeds, Leeds Trinity, Open and Wolverhampton Universities. He was a research officer at the Arts Council of GB and a script editor in the BBC TV Drama (Plays) Department. He has been a visiting scholar at, amongst others, the Universities of Bergen, Canberra, Canterbury (Christchurch NZ), Catalonia, Copenhagen, Eastern Finland, Izmir, Jyvaskyla, Rostock and at IFK Vienna. He has delivered keynote addresses at conferences and guest lectures in Australia, Austria... More About Author

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