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Richard Hoggart, famous for his writings on literature, education, and the means of communication, and especially for his influential The Uses of Literacy, has written a new work in which he looks at the ways in which mass communications in the twenty-first century both encourage and hinder greater understanding of the modern world.
Hoggart takes a number of aspects of mass society today - celebrity worship, youth culture, broadcasting, and a decline in the proper use of language - and considers the paradox that the ready accessibility of information of all types does not automatically lead to greater comprehension of our world. Information itself is inert and only leads to knowledge if it has been ordered and assessed.
He assesses the slow but uninterrupted dissolution of old beliefs, in particular the widespread corruption of language that has arisen as a result of the erosion of the traditional pillars of authority throughout a century and a half of sustained intellectual criticism of existing assumptions and beliefs, especially in the religious sphere.
The central focus of the book is an examination of broadcasting as the prime disseminator of mass information. Hoggart makes an impassioned argument for Public Service Broadcasting in its truest form, and sees the Public Service ideal as coming increasingly under attack from today's BBC broadcasters who seem to believe that the overwhelming function of television today is to entertain.
1. Mass society: An Outline
2. The view from above: a parade of persuaders, defenders and apologists
3. Consumption, concentration and classless compartments to relativism
4. Celebrities, personalities and icons
5. Broadcasting yesterday and today
6. Language and meanings
7. Gains and losses
8. Baggage for the road