The British tradition of cultural studies has emerged as a major influence on contemporary humanities and social sciences. It has radically redefined the study of popular culture. If it had been written thirty years ago, a book with this title would almost certainly have been expected to deal with "high culture": the elite art forms seen to provide the best that has been written, spoken, or performed over the ages. This book will chart some of the reasons for this shift, sites of investigation, key methodologies and theoretical orientations. The work of Raymond Williams, Richard Hoggart, Stuart Hall, and in particular the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies has established the respectability of popular culture - from the mass media to sport and dance crazes - on an academic and intellectual agenda from which it has been excluded. This exclusion had exacted a great cost; what it regarded as peripheral and meretricious included the most basic and pervasive of social processes, practices, and meanings. It is from these peripheral networks of meaning and pleasure the culture is constructed. This book presents a history of the development of these ideas, specifying what seem to be the most principles central of British cultural studies in Chapter 2. Part 2 looks in more depth at the central categories within the field: texts, audiences, the social production of everyday life, and the problem of ideology. The first chapter, necessarily, has some heavy ground clearing to do, and those who are already familiar with semiotics and structuralism may wish only to "skim" through it on their way to Chapter Two. Throughout, the author presents descriptive accounts of the significant contributions to each topic; in many cases, this work is quite daunting to read in its original form and the account may guide both those who intend to seek out the original book or article, and those who don't. As often as possible, the author has chosen to allow the original works to speak for themselves, and has quoted liberally.
This 1992 paperback reprint by Routledge of the 1990 edition is in a good, used condition. There is a small mark on the front cover and a previous owner's name inscribed in blue ink on the flyleaf. The text block is yellowing slightly but otherwise the pages seem to be clean and bright.