Response to Williams-Culture

Williams argues that the working class shouldn’t want anything to do with the culture of the bourgeois. I would go further to say that the working class often has a different yet stronger culture, not because of the production as Marx would say, but because of their inaccessibility to other things that they cannot afford. Their lack of money allows them to look for other ways to entertain and preoccupy themselves. A family’s heritage might be one source of culture, but cultural highlights like graffiti, music, and personal culture are much stronger than the culture of the bourgeois.

Another point that Williams brings up is the connection between morality and culture. I cannot think of any arguments for or against and whether or not this is true. Does morality come from a belief system or a cultural reference? It is obvious to say that our culture presents some points of morality in certain light, but how directly does that influence the morality of the people, and of what ages.

5 responses to “Response to Williams-Culture

  1. Would it really be wise for the working class to have absolutely nothing to do with the bourgeois? How would that work? Would each class continue their lives separate of the other. I think this would strongly weaken both classes. To deny that the bourgeois has it strengths and something important to give to society would be crazy. It would be ideal, even if it does sound impossible, for the bourgeois and the working class to somehow live together peacefully, and as equals and some sort of sharing of concepts and ideas could take place.

  2. Zap,
    that’s not quite what I said. It’s not that the suggestion is for the two classes to live separate lives, but rather for the proletariat to develop their own culture. Granted it seems quite impossible for two cultures to live entirely independent of one another, but I think what Williams is arguing is that some sort of distinctive difference between the two would be better.
    Think of all the commercials from higher end brands that are aimed to the upper classes. Someone living on welfare isn’t going to be able to afford the new iPod that’s being advertised, but yet they still see the joy that the product supposedly gives the owner.

  3. I’m really intrigued by your thoughts here, because this wasn’t the sense that I got from Williams. In my reading of Williams, he is explicitly against the separation of culture into “high” and “low” – and he definitely discredits those who flaunt their “high culture” as though it were somehow superior. He certainly wants to give value to all versions of culture, particularly that belonging to the working class. Where though, did you see him saying that the working classes shouldn’t want anything to do with bourgeois culture? And what do you mean when you say that you think the working class has a “stronger” culture? Do you mean there’s more value in this culture? more creativity? more community/unification? Like I said, I’m intrigued. And sorry for commenting on this so late – I’m still attempting to become blog-savvy.

  4. I think you bring up a very interesting argument. Like Erin, I was under the impression that Williams was against the division of culture and defines all culture as “ordinary.” Do you think Williams is saying that the culture of the working class is superior to the culture of the bourgeois or simply different?

  5. I don’t think superior is the word I’d use to describe my feelings toward the culture of the working class. My opinion, prompted by the reading, is that the Working Class has a richer culture that more value is placed upon than that of the Upper Class. The culture of the Working Class does not require wealth, and therefore finds value in other venues. The culture of the Upper Class is shallow and far too dependent on what commercialism portrays as being culturally important.