The Tyranny of Relativism: Culture and Politics in Contemporary English Society

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The Tyranny of Relativism is an impassioned attempt by one of England's most distinguished critics to capture the feel of British culture at the end of the twentieth century: its moods, attitudes, and institutions. Richard Hoggart presents a double argument, suggesting first that cultural dilemmas stem from a long slide towards moral relativism, as consumerism rather than authority increasingly determines the texture of life; and secondly, that despite its claims to the contrary, British Conservative governments ...

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Overview

The Tyranny of Relativism is an impassioned attempt by one of England's most distinguished critics to capture the feel of British culture at the end of the twentieth century: its moods, attitudes, and institutions. Richard Hoggart presents a double argument, suggesting first that cultural dilemmas stem from a long slide towards moral relativism, as consumerism rather than authority increasingly determines the texture of life; and secondly, that despite its claims to the contrary, British Conservative governments have exploited these changes to their own ends.

Blunt and forthright, humorous and humane, Hoggart supports his themes by analyzing particular forms of change—in education at all levels, in the arts, mass and popular entertainment, in broadcasting, in the use of language, and in the uncertain base of "cultural studies" themselves. But he also shows how some social forces have worked against this monumental process: old-style checks and balances, the resistance of class sentiments, the uneasy sense of lost values. But in this series of cultural struggles, the intellectuals are noteworthy by their absence.

The great merit of The Tyranny of Relativism is its resistance to platitudes, and its fearless probing of thorny questions that go to the heart of Western cultural traditions for a new age. When Hoggart concludes by asking "where do we go now" no one should expect complacency. In The Tyranny of Relativism, Hoggart makes the reader appreciate the silent complicity of the intellectual class for the cultural rot of relativism characteristic of western culture today. The book is must reading for those engaged in cultural studies, European politics, literary criticism, and the sociology of knowledge.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An awesomely magisterial look at the cultural state of English identity . . . there is something here to upset everybody."

—Nicholas Lazard, The Guardian

"Richard Hoggart is a national institution. The Tyranny of Relativism is 'good for you' ... a rebuke a day keeps complacency away."

—Paul Barker, The Times Literary Supplement

"An intensely democratic thoughtful rant."

—Michael Cunningham, The Irish Times

Times Literary Supplement
Hoggart is a national institution. [This book] is 'good for you' [A] rebuke a day keeps complacency away.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560009535
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/1/1997
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Hoggart, as professor of modern English literature at Birmingham University, founded the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. He has authored or edited over twenty-five books, including Between Two Worlds: Politics, Anti-Politics, and the Unpolitical, The Uses of Literacy, and The Tyranny of Relativism, all available from Transaction.

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Table of Contents

Introduction to the Transaction Edition
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Pt. 1 Relativism to Opportunism
1 Riding Relativism's Wave 3
Pt. 2 Aspects of the Dominant Mood
2 Distortions of Education 21
3 The Arts: Intellectual, Artistic and Academic Relativism 55
4 Angles on Mass and Popular Culture 96
5 The Betrayal of Broadcasting 114
6 Misuses of Language 157
7 Ways of Looking: Compass Bearings in a Wide-Open Society? 172
Pt. 3 Grit on the Flywheel
8 Home Thoughts: Old-Style Checks and Balances 193
9 From Class to Status: Resistance by Transference 198
10 Patrons and Sponsors 213
11 Effects of Mass Media: Kinds of Censorship - a Baker's Dozen 243
12 Ancestral Voices: Myths and Mottoes to Live By 268
Pt. 4 Who Needs a Clerisy?
13 Democratic Representations and Democratic Spirits 283
14 Diverse Voices, and Opinion-Formers 300
Pt. 5 A Summing-Up; and a Very Qualified Prospectus
15 Where are We, and Where Do We Go from Here? 321
Index 341
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