Raymond Williams (Book)
Raymond Williams was a towering figure in twentieth-century intellectual life. Though he is primarily thought of as a literary scholar, his work crossed disciplinary boundaries, and he made groundbreaking contributions to numerous fields, most notably social and cultural theory. This book focuses in particular on the formation and application of his cultural-materialist methodology to society and politics. Addressing aspects of Williams's work that have startlingly direct relevance to the prospects for socialism and progressive change in the twenty-first century, Jim McGuigan analyses Williams's often complicated work in a clear, accessible fashion, making connections across key concepts and delivering the perfect introduction for people first grappling with Williams's thought.
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Raymond Williams was a complex figure with various different facets to his activity. Raymond Williams: Cultural Analyst concentrates on the formation and application of his cultural-materialist methodology and its relation to his politics. Surveying Williams’s extensive writings across the fields of cultural studies, sociology and Marxist theory, the overall objective is to rescue Williams from his routine treatment as a literary scholar, and restore him to his rightful place as a leading scholar of the social sciences, not least for his theoretically sophisticated contribution to the field in the form of cultural materialism. Ultimately, this book argues that Williams should be regarded as a cultural analyst in the sociological rather than narrowly literary sense.
The book is replete with examples of Williams’s ideas and concepts that are of direct and illuminating relevance to twenty-first century problems – elements of Williams’s analysis could have been written in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, for example. Throughout, Jim McGuigan displays a remarkable capacity to explain Williams’s sometimes complex ideas in an inviting and intuitively appealing way, making interesting connections across key concepts. For those familiar with Williams’s work, this new book will come as a breath of fresh air, and for readers coming across Williams for the first time, this offers an inspiring and vivid introduction to his work.
Jim McGuigan B.Sc., M.Phil., PGCE, Ph.D., FRSA is professor emeritus of cultural analysis at Loughborough University. He is the author and editor of several books, including Cultural Populism (1992), Culture and the Public Sphere (1996), Cultural Methodologies (1997), Modernity and Postmodern Culture (1999, 2006), Rethinking Cultural Policy (2004), Cool Capitalism (2009), Cultural Analysis (2010) and Neoliberal Culture (2016).
'Jim McGuigan’s book is the best introduction I know to Raymond Williams work. It is balanced, accessible, and comprehensive. Thoroughly recommended.'
David McLellan, Emeritus Professor of Political Theory, University of Kent.
'This is a brilliant exposition of Williams’s sociological work, the best that I have read. It makes Williams’s ideas and concepts fresh and relevant for twenty-first-century audiences, revealing the often overlooked acuity of Williams’s social analysis, and the intellectually fruitful nature of his theoretical interventions. Surely, with the renewal of scholarship such as this, Williams will achieve his rightful recognition as one of the foremost British social theorists of culture, economy and society.'
Marie Moran, Assistant Professor in Equality Studies, University College Dublin