Working Class Culture

Recently read the 1979 collection of essays Working Class Culture on the British working class. A product of the famous Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies it was published in the year of Thatcher’s election and┬árecalls a lost era. It seeks to summarise a long tradition of academic work, undertaken by intellectual supporters of the labour movement, that analysed the experience of the British working class and the extent to which post-war affluence had undermined working-class distinctiveness. The Australian left never embarked upon a similar project. The 1990s Australian debate about working-class conservatism took place in a post-socialist era. The authors in Working Class Culture show how many left academics perhaps developed a romanticised vision of British working-class culture as organic and inherently anti-capitalist. The basis of this lay in the romantic critique of capitalism inspired by Dickens, Caryle and Ruskin (an interesting critique of this tradition here). Was the Australian equivalent the attraction of many left intellectuals towards indigenous society seen as a model of an organic non-capitalist community?

 

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