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As this has happened, a significant if subtle danger has arisen. Cultural critics, Richard Johnson has warned, must strive diligently to keep cultural studies from becoming a discipline unto itself--one in which students encounter cartoons as a canon and belief in the importance of such popular forms as an "orthodoxy" The only principles that critics doing cultural studies can doctrinally espouse, Johnson suggests, are the two that have thus far been introduced: namely, the principle that "culture" has been an "inegalitarian" concept, a "tool" of "condescension," and the belief that a new, "interdisciplinary and sometimes antidisciplinary " approach to true culture that is, to the forms in which culture actually lives now is required now that history and art and media are so complex and interrelated Johnson, ironically, played a major part in the institutionalization of cultural studies.

The fact that the Centre was founded in the mids is hardly surprising; cultural criticism, based as it is on a critique of elitist definitions of culture, spoke powerfully to and gained great energy and support from a decade of student unrest and revolt. The fact that the first center for cultural studies was founded in England, in Europe, is equally unsurprising. Although the United States has probably contributed more than any other nation to the media through which culture currently lives, critics in Europe, drawing upon the ideas of both Marxist and non-Marxist theorists, first articulated the need for something like what we now call cultural criticism or cultural studies.

Indeed, to this day, European critics are more involved than Americans, not only in the analysis of popular cultural forms and products but also in the analysis of human subjectivity or consciousness as a form or product of culture. Among the early continental critics now seen as forerunners of present-day cultural critics were those belonging to the Annales school, so-called because of the name of the journal that Marc Bloch and Lucien Febvre launched, in France, in Annales: Economies, Societes, Civilizations.

Both firstand second-generation Annales school critics warn against the development of "topics" of study by cultural critics--unless those same critics are bent on "developing. At the same time, interested as they are in cohesion, Annales school critics have warned against seeing the "rituals and other forms of symbolic action" as "express[ing] a central, coherent, communal meaning. Michel Foucault is another strong, continental influence on present--day cultural criticism--and perhaps the strongest influence on American cultural criticism and the so-called new historicism, an interdisciplinary form of historical criticism whose evolution has often paralleled that of cultural criticism.

Influenced by early Annales critics and contemporary Marxists but neither an Annales critic nor a Marxist himself , Foucault sought to study cultures in terms of power relationships. Unlike Marxists and some Annales school critics, he refused to see power as something exercised by a dominant over a subservient class. Indeed, he emphasized that power is not just repressive power: a tool of conspiracy by one individual or institution against another.

Power, rather, is a whole complex of forces; it is that which produces what happens. Foucault tried to view all things, from punishment to sexuality, in terms of the widest possible variety of discourses. As a result, he traced the "genealogy" of topics he studied through texts that more traditional historians and literary critics would have overlooked, looking at in Lynn Hunt's words "memoirs of deviants, diaries, political treatises, architectural blueprints, court records, doctors' reports--applying consistent principles of analysis in search of moments of reversal in discourse, in search of events as loci of the conflict where social practices were transformed" Hunt Of the British influences on cultural studies and criticism as it is today, several have already been mentioned.

Of those who have not, two early forerunners stand out. One of these, the Marxist critic E. Thompson, revolutionized study of the industrial revolution by writing about its impact on human attitudes, even consciousness. He showed how a shared cultural view, specifically that of what constitutes a fair or just price, influenced crowd behavior and caused such things as the food riots and rick burnings of the nineteenth century. The other, even greater, early British influence on contemporary cultural criticism and cultural studies was the late Raymond Williams.

In works like The Long Revolution and Culture and Society: , Williams demonstrated that culture is not a fixed and finished but, rather a living and changing; thing. One of the changes he called for was the development of a common socialist culture. Like Marxists, with whom he often both argued and sympathized, Williams viewed culture in relation to ideologies, what he termed the "residual," "dominant," or "emerging" ways of viewing the world held by classes or individuals holding power in a given social group.

But unlike Thompson and Richard Hoggart, he avoided emphasizing social classes and class conflict in discussing those forces most powerfully shaping and changing culture. And, unlike certain continental Marxists, he could never see the cultural "superstructure" as being a more or less simple "reflection" of the economic "base.

What is Cultural Criticism?

A believer in the resiliency of the individual, he produced a body of criticism notable for what Hall has called its "humanism" As is clear from the paragraphs above, the emergence and evolution of cultural studies or criticism are difficult to separate entirely from the development of Marxist thought. Marxism is, in a sense, the background to the background of most cultural criticism, and some contemporary cultural critics consider themselves Marxist critics as well.

Of particular importance to the evolution of cultural criticism are the works of Walter Benjamin, Antonio Gramsci, Louis Althusser, and Mikhail Bakhtin. Bakhtin was a Russian, later a Soviet, critic so original in his thinking and wide-ranging in his influence that some would say he was never a Marxist at all.

He viewed language--especially literary texts--in terms of discourses and dialogues between discourses. Within a novel written in a society in flux, for instance, the narrative may include an official, legitimate discourse, plus another infiltrated by challenging comments and even retorts. In a book on Dostoyevsky and a study Rabelais and His World , Bakhtin examined what he calls "polyphonic" novels, each characterized by a multiplicity of voices or discourses.

What is Organizational Culture?

In Dostoyevsky the independent status of a given character is marked by the difference of his or her language from that of the narrator. The narrator's voice, too, can in fact be a dialogue. In works by Rabelais, Bakhtin finds that the profane language of the carnival and of other popular festivities play against and parody the more official discourses, that is, of the magistrates or the Church. Bakhtin influenced modern cultural criticism by showing, in a sense, that the conflict between "high" and "low" culture takes place not only between classic and popular texts but also between the "dialogic" voices that exist within all great books.

Designing Real Utopias

Walter Benjamin was a German Marxist who, during roughly the same period, attacked certain conventional and traditional literary forms that he felt conveyed a stultifying "aura" of culture. He took this position in part because so many previous Marxist critics and, in his own day, Georg Lukacs, had seemed to be stuck on appreciating nineteenth-century realistic novels-and opposed to the modernist works of their own time. Benjamin not only praised modernist movements, such as Dadaism, but also saw as hopeful the development of new art forms utilizing mechanical production and reproduction.

These forms, including radio and films, offered the promise of a new definition of culture via a broader, less exclusive domain of the arts. Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist best known for his Prison Notebooks first published as Lettere dal caracere in , critiqued the very concept of literature and, beyond that, of culture in the old sense, stressing not only the importance of culture more broadly defined but the need for nurturing and developing proletarian, or working-class, culture.

He suggested the need to view intellectuals politically--and the need for what he called "radical organic" intellectuals. Today's cultural critics calling for colleagues to "legitimate the notion of writing reviews and books for the general public," to "become involved in the political reading of popular culture," and, in general, to "repoliticize. Finally, and most important, Gramsci related literature to the ideologies of the culture that produced it and developed the concept of "hegemony," a term he used to describe the pervasive, weblike system of meanings and values--ideologies--that shapes the way things look, what they mean and, therefore, what reality is for the majority of people within a culture.

Gramsci did not see people, even poor people, as the helpless victims of hegemony, as ideology's idiotic robots.

Rather, he believed that people have the freedom and power to struggle against ideology, to alter hegemony. As Patrick Brantlinger has suggested in Crusoe's Footprints: Cultural Studies in Britain and America , Gramsci's thought is unspoiled by the "intellectual arrogance that views the vast majority of people as deluded zombies, the victims or creatures of ideology" Of those Marxists who, after Gramsci, explored the complex relationship between literature and ideology, the French Marxist Louis Althusser also had a significant impact on cultural criticism.

Unlike Gramsci, Althusser tended to see ideology in control of people, and not vice versa. He argued that the main function of ideology is to reproduce the society's existing relations of production, and that that function is even carried out in most literary texts, although literature is relatively autonomous from other "social formations.

In many ways, though, Althusser is as good an example of where Marxism and cultural criticism part ways as he is of where cultural criticism is indebted to Marxists and their ideas. For although Althusser did argue that literature is relatively autonomous--more independent of ideology than, say, Church, press, or State--he meant by literature not just literature in the narrow sense but something even narrower.

He meant Good Literature, certainly not the popular forms that present-day cultural critics would want to set beside Tolstoy and Joyce, Eliot and Brecht. Those popular fictions, Althusser assumed, were mere packhorses designed however unconsciously to carry the baggage of a culture's ideology, mere brood mares destined to reproduce it.

Option Module: Understanding Cultural Work

Thus, while cultural critics have embraced both Althusser's notion that works of literature reflect certain ideological formations and his notion that, at the same time, literary works may be relatively distant from or even resistant to ideology, they have rejected the narrow limits within which Althusser and other Marxists have defined literature. In "Marxism and Popular Fiction" , Tony Bennett uses "Monty Python's Flying Circus" and another British television show, "Not the 9 o'clock News," to argue that the Althusserian notion that all forms of popular culture are to be included "among [all those] many material forms which ideology takes.

Although there are Marxist cultural critics Bennett himself is one, carrying on through his writings what may be described as a lover's quarrel with Marxism , most cultural critics are not Marxists in any strict sense. Search for:. Cultural Industries, Work and Values My review examined the values embedded in cultural work in the cultural industries the professional worlds of the arts, media and design drawing on an interdisciplinary social science literature.

Some of the key concluding points of this review were therefore: The general focus on cultural value in terms of objects and commodities, symbols and intangible assets, remains vital, but lacks a work-focussed or labour perspective. Cultural value partly arises from the contexts of production where ideas of value, quality, character, content and form are significant, and shape the subsequent value generated in circulation and consumption. The cultural industries workplace is therefore a significant source of cultural value, however this value is defined.


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In focussing on the workplace, we see that the values of cultural work are most often made concrete in objects. In most if not all cases there is some relationship between the internal work process and the values of the cultural object produced. Similarly, the music produced authentically by an artist under conditions of relative autonomy has a particular kind of value than the engineered corporate song-hit.

Political culture

The ethical intentions and practices of the net-worker are significant in the final evaluation of the integrity of the software good. The ethical connection between the work and the object are significant in many cases, but tend to be overlooked in cultural value discourse. In this way, we recognise that the cultural value of objects can be related to the lived conditions and intentions of the labour invested them — and not just their market price, or perceived aesthetic essence. In this respect, while establishing economic value for the cultural industries sector continues to quite legitimately preoccupy different interests, the pursuit of a robust economic analysis is only one part of the story of value.


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This is because such efforts not only serve to misrepresent the foundational dynamic of the relationships between culture and economy, and narrow the debate about value, they tend also to exfiltrate the political and cultural questions that must necessarily arise in the context of any cultural industry evaluation. Work has the capacity to provide people with material sustenance and fulfilling and meaningful lives; but the question of how to attain this value is almost entirely neglected in creative economy thinking.

The salary is by agreement and depending on experience. We are looking for a flexible, proactive and responsible colleague, who is a team player and has good networking skills. He or she has a keen eye for political, rule of law and cultural trends and is creative in combining cultural activities with diplomacy. They work together for the common good of Dutch-Slovak relations. Team spirit is a key value.


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