Rethinking British Decline

By Richard English; Michael Kenny | Go to book overview

8
Stuart Hall

Introduction

Born in Jamaica in 1932, Stuart Hall has become one of the most prominent interpreters and critics of cultural and political life in contemporary Britain. He was educated first at Jamaica College, and then in 1951 began a Masters degree at Merton College, Oxford University, as a Rhodes Scholar. 1 After 1956 he was a central figure in the fledgling New Left movement that emerged in towns across England and Scotland, and became the first editor of the celebrated journal New Left Review. His early writing reveals his acute sensitivity to the overlap between cultural developments and social life, and the political significance of anxieties about national identity and nationhood in the British context. 2 As the second director of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham University, from 1968 until 1979, he played a major role in developing the discipline of Cultural Studies. Since then, he has become one of Britain's best known intellectuals through his skilful commentary on a range of social and cultural developments. He was appointed Professor of Sociology at the Open University in 1979.

In recent years Hall achieved prominence for his interpretation of the ideological aspirations behind 'Thatcherism' in British politics during the 1980s. He has also helped refine understanding of political discourse and debate more generally, exploring how political 'common sense' and ideological arguments rely upon (often subterranean) invocations of racial and ethnic imagery and identification, which have significant social effects. In the light of Hall's work, generations of scholars are far more sensitive to the ideological and symbolic character of the deployment of terms such as 'nation', 'nationhood' and 'English'. His thinking has never been easy to classify in ideological or intellectual terms. It has been shaped by an extensive engagement with Marxism, yet he has never been a particularly 'orthodox' type of Marxist. He has

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Rethinking British Decline
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Rethinking British Decline *
  • Contents vii
  • Preface and Acknowledgements ix
  • Notes on the Contributors xii
  • 1 - Theories and Explanations of British Decline 1
  • Part I - Reflections on British Decline *
  • 2 - Martin Wiener 25
  • 3 - Correlli Barnett 37
  • 4 - Will Hutton 50
  • 5 - W. D. Rubinstein 61
  • 6 - Sidney Pollard 76
  • 7 - Samuel Brittan 92
  • 8 - Stuart Hall 104
  • 9 - David Marquand 117
  • 10 - Jonathan Clark 137
  • Part II - Thematic Analysis *
  • 11 - Party Ideology and National Decline 155
  • 12 - Institutional Approaches to Britain's Relative Economic Decline 184
  • 13 - British Decline and European Integration 210
  • 14 - Globalisation and Britain's Decline 231
  • 15 - The End of Empire 257
  • 16 - Conclusion: Decline or Declinism? 279
  • Select Bibliography 300
  • Index 305
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