In his work, Raymond Williams discussed culture on the basis of his own observations and considerations. The author pointed out that it is ordinary because it is created by the shared means and is available to all. Still, his view seems to be not relevant to the culture in contemporary society because it changed greatly with the course of time.
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Raymond Williams made a great contribution to the study of culture, as he investigated this concept from different perspectives and came up with the idea that it is extremely difficult to totally understand what culture is and what it bears. Such a problem occurs because it has multi-dimensional nature that is hard to interpret. People say ‘culture’ when they want to talk about one’s background that includes the way of life as well as some arts.
Even though Williams made such claims in the middle of the 1900s, this way of thinking has not changed and is relevant even today. People use this word in different contexts, claiming that it can be mass, popular or high culture. They can refer to it when speaking about the nation or just some limited group of people who live within it. However, it cannot be argued that the manner in which the general public interpreted the meanings of ‘culture’ changed. Since that time people experienced events that made them change their perceptions and also changed the manner, they do some things wanting to make their lives better (Pearson, 2006).
William’s work gave the general public an opportunity to deepen into the concept of culture and understand the way it forms and alters with the course of time. In his work, the author underlined several times that culture is ordinary. It is a kind of stable entity that consists of several elements, which extend under the people’s old meanings and directions as well as new observations and meanings. Thus, culture in general, and it includes the things that are common to all people. Just as Arnold claimed it is “the best that has been said and thought” (Storey, 2015, p. 19).
Still, Williams fails to take into consideration cultivated individuals and those who make use of the concept of culture in order to influence the general public. He even refuses to think about them as if denying their existence. Maybe such an approach could be used at the end of the 20th century, but it is more likely that William’s ideas were based on the investigation only from the perspective of his own background.
He tends to believe that culture is more than just a group of individuals. It is a structured entity to which all have access, which makes it ordinary. However, such an approach is rather questionable. When considering such a period of time when the difference between various groups of people was obvious, it is hard to talk about one basic ordinary culture in both perspectives (life and art). For example, the gap between the elite and the general public during industrialization was vivid and obvious to everyone. Nowadays the situation differs, of course, but mainly because more cultures and subcultures occurred. It would be wrong to compare them all believing that they are ordinary and differ only when being percept.
Williams believed that a traditional working class is the best representative of the population that can be referred to when speaking about the concept of culture. The author observed the environment, in which he lived and considered the way people like farm laborers and railway workers alter their minds, develop skills and language. He came to the conclusion that they did it in the same way, which allowed him to make a conclusion about the ordinariness of culture. In this manner, Williams also discussed art, literature, and other things. However, today such an approach is mainly considered to be biased. The author’s ideas could be taken for granted if he compared several classes of people to prove his mind. For now, it seems that he tells not to limit culture to one group of individuals while he is doing it himself.
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In this work, the author tends to deny various points of view without decent argumentation, which also makes the readers question his words. Information plays a vital role in today’s word, and its authoritativeness is crucial. That is why Williams would be likely to change his point of view. Knowing that times are changing rapidly, and people’s lives alter, the author would pay more attention to the way individuals develop and behave. It is still doubtful that he would totally deny the idea of ordinariness, but Williams might accept the existence of different cultures and underline that they alter as well as their elements.
It cannot be denied that cultural patterns change with the course of time and all people believe in this. Williams would also stick to this point and even might discuss cultural diversity, which he tended to deny emphasizing individual aspects such as differences in people’s character and behavior. Previously he accepted the belief of the elite having more opportunities than the representatives of the general public. Today, he might also agree that ‘the masses’ have limited opportunities, which he tended to deny. Moreover, the author believed that there are no ‘masses’ as people see them.
But today he might accept the idea that it was more than just an attempt to reduce the chaos of that time. Maybe, Williams would still disagree to treat cultures as bad and good ones, but it can be even advantageous as such views are rather biased and can be seen differently depending on the perspective. The author would be likely to agree that many people use cultural peculiarities to influence others, for example in the sphere of media. He would agree with the opinion that exists nowadays that those who have the power to influence culture more than others can control it and affect the general public, its views, and perceptions. Williams would have an opportunity to consider the way people are influenced by advertising and new ways of communication, for example, and agree that they are connected (O’Sullivan, 2005). In other words, culture can be altered by a particular group of people who have an opportunity to control one of the spheres of life.
Taking everything mentioned into consideration, it can be concluded that Williams’s ideas are not relevant today, as he believed that culture gathers the most general views and cannot be altered by people’s persuasion and public life. In contemporary society, his thoughts look biased and limited as cultural diversity is accepted by the general public while Williams discussed only alterations in people’s behaviors. Still, today he might change this opinion and support contemporary scholars.
O’Sullivan. (2005). The social and cultural effects of advertising. Web.
Pearson. (2006). Culture and culture change. Web.
Storey. (2015). Cultural theory and popular culture. New York, NY: Routledge. Web.