Cultural Theory and the Problem of Modernity by Alan Swingewood
By Alan Swingewood
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Extra info for Cultural Theory and the Problem of Modernity
The objectification of culture based on increasing specialisation generates estrangement between the subject and its products, the 'sheer quantity' of the objects produced confronting the individual as external, autonomous entities: 'Cultural objects increasingly evolve into an interconnected enclosed world that has increasingly fewer points at which the subjective soul can interpose its will and feelings' (Simmel, 1990, p. 46). On one level, therefore, Simmel advanced the view that social development necessarily leads to a decentred culture characterised by multiple participation in a complex of social circles.
In Gramsci's analysis, culture, as both institutions and practices, is closely bound up with history and politics, deeply imbricated in power relations. Culture is not neutral nor does it arise spontaneously from social institutions. Culture is produced by specific groups or intellectuals, especially those belonging to the 'rising class', who must combat the old and the traditional with the new and the challenging. It is these class-bound intellectuals who engage in struggles over new modes of expression, including language and popular and high culture, all of which play important roles in the forging of a new society and social relations.
Culture is not neutral nor does it arise spontaneously from social institutions. Culture is produced by specific groups or intellectuals, especially those belonging to the 'rising class', who must combat the old and the traditional with the new and the challenging. It is these class-bound intellectuals who engage in struggles over new modes of expression, including language and popular and high culture, all of which play important roles in the forging of a new society and social relations. One of Gramsci's most important points is that culture, while contextbound and thus finite, always involves some notion of universal values.