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The Uses of Literacy: Aspects of Working-Class Life (Penguin Modern Classics)

The Uses of Literacy: Aspects of Working-Class Life (Penguin Modern Classics) [Kindle Edition]

Richard Hoggart , Lynsey Hanley , Simon Hoggart
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

When a society becomes more affluent, does it lose other values? Are the skills that education and literacy gave millions wasted on consuming pop culture? Do the media coerce us into a world of the superficial and the material - or can they be a force for good?

When Richard Hoggart asked these questions in his 1957 book The Uses of Literacy Britain was undergoing huge social change, yet his landmark work has lost none of its pertinence and power today. Hoggart gives a fascinating insight into the close-knit values of Northern England's vanishing working-class communities, and weaves this together with his views on the arrival of a new, homogenous 'mass' US-influenced culture. His headline-grabbing bestseller opened up a whole new area of cultural study and remains essential reading, both as a historical document, and as a commentary on class, poverty and the media.

About the Author

Richard Hoggart was born in Leeds in 1918. He served with the Royal Artillery in North Africa from 1940 to 1946, after which he taught literature at the University of Hull, was visiting professor of English at the University of Rochester in America and senior lecturer in English at the University of Leicester. Professor Hoggart has been a member of numerous bodies and at different times was an Assistant Director-General of UNESCO, Chairman of the New Statesman and Vice-Chairman of the Arts Council.

The Uses of Literacy, his most widely acclaimed work was partly autobiographical and drawn from his own boyhood growing up in the North of England.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that changed my life 26 Oct 2009
I read the first paperback version of this book some time in the early 1960s. It enhanced and enriched my outlook on popular culture, and helped colour my approach to the teaching of English early in a career that was to last 35 years. I look forward to reading the reissued edition (2009). I recommend this book to everybody interested in an examination of why we think the way we do.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Prescient and Timeless 20 Oct 2009
This is a classic text that is written with a certain charm and modesty and is eminently readable. It evokes, for the present day reader,the atmosphere of the post-war years and the rapid changes that were taking place in popular culture and social attitudes. These changes heralded the cultural tidal wave of the 1960's, but what makes Hoggart so prescient and timeless is that when reading his cautions and doubts now, more than 50 years later, it is plain to see that his fears were well grounded. For example, when he writes:
"Most mass-entertainments are in the end what D.H.Lawrence described as "anti-life". They are full of corrupt brightness, of improper appeals and moral evasions...progress is conceived as a seeking of material possessions, equality as a moral levelling, and freedom as the ground for endless irresponsible pleasure...nothing which can really grip the brain or heart."
it seems to be the present day rather than the 1950's that he is writing about, and he clearly foresees a uniform public culture, devoid of discernment or criticism, in which those who accuse it of being empty and valueless are mocked and ridiculed.
"The Uses of Literacy" is an important and stimulating book that provides valuable insight into the journey from the 1950's to the cultural malaise of the present day.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A multi-faceted classic 22 May 2012
This works on so many different levels in so many different ways. Very much of its time, it is a beautifully-written analysis of the attitudes and beliefs of what was then known as the working class. A phrase rarely if ever heard today, presumably for reasons of alleged political correctness. As mentioned in other reviews, Richard Hoggart's warnings about how the mass media was to evolve have proved uncannily accurate. He also explains with great clarity and accuracy what makes people do what they do and think what they think - then and now.

What is equally scary is that he describes a set of values and attitudes that I have inherited from my parents - values that seem almost alien in today's culture.

A brilliant book, recommended to anyone with an interest in what makes us what we are as a people. Hoggart offers something close to the definitive study of what makes up the mass media ethos, content and consumer.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The usefullest book you could read 24 Jun 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read Richard Hoggart's "The Uses of Literacy" for the first time at least 40 years ago, and lent it to all my friends, with the result that, inevitably, I forgot who was the last person to borrow it. So eventually I got round to buying myself a new copy, and am very glad I did. It's as important and stimulating a read now as it was then. If only all books were so useful, so compassionate, so full of insight and so literate.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real classic - 23 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
For such an important book about the sociology of language this is a wonderfully easy read . Hoggart's crystal clear language is a delight.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Past times brought alive for us. 5 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
One of the virtues of this book is that it offers such a richly textured description of the life and culture of the North-of England working-class half a century ago. To read the book is almost to step back in time to a world that few of us today can remember or ever experienced. Hoggart's affection and respect for the people he grew up with are unmistakeable. One of the amusing aspects of the book is that in order to avoid libel cases, the author invented examples of the 'trashy' literature he criticises, most memorably "Death Cab for Cutie".

I would recommend this to anyone interested in reading a vivid and memorable slice of the social history of Britain.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keep the wheels turning 5 Nov 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As always Richard Hoggart gets underneath the outer skin of whatever the subject is being reviewed by his forensic eye and The Uses of Literacy is no exception.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars 4 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
good but hard going at times
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected Snobbery
Hoggart is a of hero of mine for his contributions to the debates about the importance of reading so I was shocked at the barley disguised snobbery in the book. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Adrian Townsend
5.0 out of 5 stars Read and Reflect
This has been a re-visiting after a long time to a book that was and still is both pleasurable and essential
Published 2 months ago by Max B
1.0 out of 5 stars Registering os Sue's Knndle to my accout
Because I requested your representativeit to be sent on to my partners kindle as well. This was after she had registered it Sue's kindle n on to my accout so in future when I... Read more
Published 2 months ago by R.Coates-Walker
2.0 out of 5 stars Sorry - could not cope with it.
Yes, I know. Very worthy, well written book and I will get back to it when I have the strength. But maybe Bill Bryson is more my level. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Robby
4.0 out of 5 stars How we were
For those of us who were around when this book was published we wonder why we never read it. After all I knew of its existence. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mr. Harold Cotton
5.0 out of 5 stars 50 Years Later
Like another of your reviewers my copy of Richard Hoggarts 'Uses of Literacy' went missing a long time ago but I have never really forgotten his pursuasive arguements and this is... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Brian D Fitzpatrick
2.0 out of 5 stars Hoggart's Hang-Ups, or, The Poor Little Scholarship Boy, or, Bruised...
In the brave new Welfare State world that rose from the ashes in '45 there was probably no one more surprised than Hoggart to be given his bully-pulpit - and boy did he run with... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Simon Barrett
1.0 out of 5 stars A failure on almost every level
I disliked this book. I hated it. I wanted to slap it. I first became aware of it from "Death Cab for Cutie", a song by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mr. A. Pomeroy
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard Hoggart's 'The Uses of Literacy'.
This is a widely acclaimed classic book on working-class culture in post war Britain. Fifty years on its insights are still relevant.
Published 6 months ago by Kevin Peoples
3.0 out of 5 stars Hasn't worn all that well
Yes, I know that this is a classic and I know that when it came out it was - appropriately - meet with very considerable praise. Read more
Published 6 months ago by P. Burnard
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a wide range of similar attitudes running down to the folksy ballyhoo of the Sunday columnists, the journalists who always remember to quote with admiration the latest bon mot of their pub-pal ‘Alf &quote;
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economic power: he envisaged how snobbery could become institutionalised, rather than banished, by popular cultural products – magazines, tabloid &quote;
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there is an element of truth in what they say and it is a pity to see it inflated for display. &quote;
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