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Theories of Contemporary Society - Essay Example

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Raymond Williams was born in Pandy, a welsh village near English border. His father was a railway signalman and also a union activist. Though the rail connections were a modern development yet never displaced the customary village life. He later went to study at Cambridge and His leaning towards communism became stronger…
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Theories of Contemporary Society

Download file to see previous pages... He was first one to draw attention towards television as strong medium of culture though not in a positive way. His disgust at pop culture and such other criticism of modern cultures in the culture and society, the long revolution and the country and the city almost labeled him anti-modern and pessimist (Hubbard et al, 2004, p334)
Stuart Hall was born in Jamaica and later went to Oxford University as Rhode scholar. During his academic years in Britain, he became chief proponent to British new left. His ideas led to development of Birmingham centre for contemporary cultural studies (CCCR). He has also been a prominent teacher at Open University and later much sought after authority on culture and identity. His essay on encoding/decoding related to media reports explained that at the time of production a meaning is encoded in media report which is decoded at the time of transmission, distribution, utilization and reproduction. The critics not only decode the intended meaning, they add many covert meanings to it. Otherwise also the listeners or viewers transform meaning according to their frames. The decoding or re-encoding depends on class and social status as these show differential requests and needs. His obviously geographic term, map of meaning was the means through which people made sense of the world. The production and reproduction of maps of meaning is highly varied. A new subculture type may develop by taking products and practices from the dominant culture and then reshaping them to give a new sub cultural group an identity (Hubbard et al, 2004, 163).
Both the thinkers belonged to working class and have been prominent sociologists who developed cultural studies. Not only did they belong to same field but their interests were also similar, the new left meaning to society and culture. Hall is highly influenced by Williams as evident from his writings. In fact, Hall has also complemented Williams' work by adding dimension of race and gender to it. Their background, academic interests, views and complementary contribution to understanding of society besides the contemporary existence makes it logical to analyse their thinking together.

Williams's 'structure of feeling': The notion of 'structure of feeling' was projected by Williams in the Long Revolution. He explained that cultural characteristic of a society is reflected in the routine social practices of that society. The cultural practices affect beliefs and behaviour of individuals in that society according to class patterns. Later Hall elaborated the meaning of structure of feeling stating it as experiences of all patterns and practices as lived in a particular period. In his Marxism and Literature, Williams argued that culture is to be understood in its past and future aspirations as well as contemporary lived experiences. Williams major concern was specific and national cultures and that British culture was considered ordinary in the sense that only considered 'lived' or present culture important (Taylor et al, 1996,5). Williams posited that historical changes in the society occurred through structure of feeling rather than prominent models of economic or cultural structures of that time. In this light, he considered study of cinema as integral part of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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