Raymond Williams - Culture Is Ordinary

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‘Culture is Ordinary’ by Raymond Williams commences with a short, yet descriptive account of Williams’ individual cultural chapters and histories in which he experienced whilst living in Wales as a young boy. Through these anecdotes Williams’ directly establishes with the audience the concept of culture and society being formed through mutual meanings and everyday understandings amongst assemblages, when he writes – “Every human society has it’s own shape, it’s own purposes, it’s own meanings. Every human society expresses these, in institutions, and in arts and learning.” Williams further states that culture can be extended within a twofold path - practised through: 1)Known meanings and directions.

2)New observations and meanings.
Williams describes this ‘path’ as “the known meanings and the directions, which its members are trained to; the new observations and meanings, which are offered and tested.” This indicates that Williams adopts the idea that there are elements of culture, which are more or less stagnant, and that some aspects within all cultures have the potential to persistently cultivate and develop. Williams declares there are two implications of the word ‘Culture’: 1)The whole way of life.

2)The arts and learning.
Williams frequently uses both in conjunction with each other and refuses to see them as separate units. Throughout the article Williams establishes two English social divisions – one of ordinary cultivation and the other of ‘high-brows’ who use articulate language in attempt to gain power over everyday people. Williams opposes these two distinctions and states that culture is not only limited to those people in power, but rather it is available to and by all people; thus, culture is a fundamental element of ‘ordinary’ life.

To further the point that culture is conventional within the everyday, Williams presents two formations of culture that he has candidly observed. The first example of culture...
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