New Class Culture: How an Emergent Class Is Transforming America's Culture

New Class Culture: How an Emergent Class Is Transforming America's Culture

New Class Culture: How an Emergent Class Is Transforming America's Culture

New Class Culture: How an Emergent Class Is Transforming America's Culture

Synopsis

A new class is emerging in the wake of the information economy and is altering American culture. Instead of arguing about values in aesthetic taste or morality, this book sheds new light on the culture wars by examining the social sources of recent cultural developments. Both opponents and defenders of the current cultural scene have neglected the class factors in culture generally and in present society. If the new class is added to our picture of American society, its input into the cultural marketplace helps to explain present trends in postmodernism, mixtures of high and low culture, and other recent developments.

Excerpt

A new class is always a source of emergent cultural practice, but while it is still, as a class, relatively subordinate, this is always likely to be uneven and is certain to be incomplete.

—Raymond Williams

Every society has its culture, but only specially favored nations enjoy the luxury of arguing about it. Anthropologists tell us that tribal culture stabilizes and unifies individual and collective life, for customary practices and traditional meanings are ordering, even binding, forces. In contrast, culture in technologically advanced and developing societies becomes a focus of controversy surrounding new patterns in work and consumption. By the same token, such changes are registered in and may most readily be grasped by examining the culture and its controversies. Beyond expressing both exhilaration and resistance to change, our culture wars—for all their excess of heat over light—are signs of deeper change. They serve as indices of social regrouping, as an information economy brings into existence a new kind of worker—sometimes called “knowledge workers”—to run it and, in doing so, reorders the structure of society by adding a potent new stratum to it.

In a nation as ideologically fissured as ours, it may be cause for rejoicing when agreement on any basic issue is reached. Both right and left acknowledge that a new social group—a creature of many names, given its newness and the variety of attitudes to it—is both politically suspect

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