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226 Cultural studies there was the danger that the subject Itself might dissolve into something quite unmanageable. However, there also seemed to be consensus that an authentic history of popular culture was possible and that it should begin not with the artefacts of elite Culture but with the various points of production and mediation within the working classes themselves. Terms like ‘hegemony’ Seemed to conflate and obscure the vitality of culture as lived experience. Despite the notable efforts of Hans Medick to provide larger historical frame for the cultural renaissanee of the period, generalisation was not the order of the day. Diversity, ambiguity and contradiction intruded at every point in the discussion. As was the case with social history a decade ago, there was S0 much unexplored territory that the provision of a new set of maps seemed a very long way off. What was needed, it seemed, were appropriately standardised tools for further exploration, guidelines as well as rules of evidence which would, in time, make theory possible. FURTHER READING On the discovery of the people, P. Burke, Popular Culture in Early Modern Surope, London i978, ch. 1. On oral poetry, Ruth Finnegan, Oral Poetry, Cambridge 1977. On the French ehapbooks, R. Mandrou, De'la culture populdire aux 17e et 466 siécles, Paris 1964, and G. Bolléme, La Bibliotheque Bleue, Paris 1971; c.f. R. Muchembled, Culture populaire et culture des élites, Paris 1978, and H.-J. Liisebrink, 'L'image de Mandrin',' Revue de I'istoire Moderne, 26, 1979, pp. 345-64 C. Ginaburg, ‘Cheese and Worms’, in etigion and the People, ed. by J. Obelkevien, Chapel Hilt'1979, deals with the cosmology of a sixteenth-century miller who owned a few books. V. Neuburg, Popular Literature, Harmondsworth 1977, 1s a guide to English chapbooks; their distribution network has been Studied in # forthcoming book by Margaret Spufford. On ideology" and ‘hegemony’, R. Williams, Marxism and Literature, London 1977. 221 Cuttural studies 29 NOTES ON DECONSTRUCTING "THE POPULAR’ Stuart Hall* First, I want to say something about periodisations in the study of popular culture, Difficult problems are posed here by periodisation ~ I don't offer it to you simply as 9 sort of gesture to the historians. Are the major breaks largely descriptive? Do ‘they arise largely from within popular culture itself, or from factors which are outside of but impinge on it? With what other movements and periodisations is ‘popular culture’ most reveulingly inked? Then I want to tell you some of the diffieulties I have with the term 'popular'. I have almost as many problems with 'popular' as I have with ‘culture’. When you [put the two terms together, the difficulties ean be pretty horrendous. ‘Throughout the long transition into agrarian capitalism snd then in the formation and development of industrial capitalism, there is a more or less continuous struggle over the culture of working people, the labouring classes and the poor. This fact must be the starting point for any study, both of the basis for, and of the transformations of, popular culture. The changing Balance and reletlono of social forces throughout That History reveat themsetves; Time and again, Tn struggles over the forms or the culture, traditions and iar or Ie of he olor eof tl a elasses-Caprtal had @ stake in the culture of the popular cfisses Because the constitution of a whole new social order ‘around capital required a more or less continuous, intermittent , process of re-education, in the broadest sense. ‘And one of ihe principal sites of resistance to the forms through Which this 'zeformation' of the people was pursued lay in popular tradition. That is why popular culture is linked, for so long. to questions of tradition, of traditional forms of life ~ and why its ‘traditionalism’ has been s0 often misinterpreted as 4 product of a merely conservative impulse, backward looking and anachronistic Struggle and resistance ~ but also, of course, appropriation and ex-propriation. Time and again, what we are really looking at is the active destruction of particular ways of Ute, and their transformation into something new. ‘Cultural change’ is a polite euphemism for the process by which some ultutral forms and practices are driven out of the centre of stuart Hall, a founder editor of New Left Review and for many yeurs director of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies Birmingham, is now professor of sociology at the Open University. 226 Cultural studies popular life, actively marginalised. Rather than sinply ‘felling fino disuse’ through the Long March to modernisation, things are oetively pusned aside, 0 that somcthing alze ean take their Glace, The magistrate and the evangelical police have, or ought Do tnave, a more ‘honoured’ place in the history of popular Culture than they have usually been accorded. Even more faportant than bun and proseription is that subtle and slippery customer ~ ‘reforii' (with all the positive and unambiguous overtones it carries today), One way or another, "the people’ re frequently the object of 'reform!: often, for their own good, Gf course - tn their best interests". We understand struggle Gnd resistance, nowadays, rather better than we do reform and {ransformation, Yet "transformations! are at the heart of the Study of popular culture, I mean the active work on existing Traditions and activities, their active re-working, so thet they come out a different way: they appear to ‘persist’ - yet, from Gne period to another, they come to stand in a different relation fo the ways working people live and the ways they define their felations to euch other, to 'the others and to their conditions of Iie. ‘Transformation is the key to the long and protracted process of the "moralisation’ of the labouring classes, and the Kfunoralisation’ of the poor, and the 're-education’ of the people. Popular culture is neither, in a ‘pure’ sense, the vopular Traditions OF Fesrstance to These processes: tor is fortis which.are superimposed on_and over then-—lt-1s the round on whieh the transformations are works ey the Study of popular cullure, we should always start here with the double-stake in popular ‘the dou! ere of contaisment aie Fesistance, which is always inevitably inside ‘The study of popular culture has tended to oscillate wildly between the two alternative poles of that dialectic ~ containment / resistance. We have had some striking and marvellous reversals. ‘Think of the really major revolution in historical understanding wiich has followed as the history of ‘polite society’ and the Whig lristocracy in eighteenth-century England has been upturned by the addition of the history of the turbulent and ungovernable people. The popular traditions of the eighteenth-century Rabouring poor, the popular classes and the "loose and disorderly sort’ often, now, appear as virtually independent formations: tolerated in @ state of permanently unstable Cquilibrium in relatively peaceful and prosperous times: subject toarbitrary excursions and expeditions in times of panic and Crisis. Yet. though formally these were the cultures of the people ‘outside the walls’, beyond political society and the Enlangle of power, they were never, in fact, outside of the larger field of social forces and culiural relations. They not only constantly pressed on ‘society'; they were linked and Connected with it, by a multitude of traditions and practices: Lines of lalliance” as well as lines of cleavage, From these Cultural bases, often far removed from the dispositions of law, 229 Cultural studies power and authority, ‘the people! threatened constantly to Brupt: and, when they did s0, they break on to the stage of serpaage and power with a throatening din and clamour ~ with fife and’deum, cockade and effigy, proclamation and ritual ~ and, often, with e striking, popular, ritual discipline. Yet never quite overturning the delicate strands of paternalism, Geference and terror within which they were constantly if insecurely constrained. In the following century, where the "labouring! and the dangerous’ classes lived without benefit of that fine distinction the reformers were so anxious to draw (this twas a cultural distinetion as well as a moral and economie one: land a great deal of legislation and regulation was devised to Operate directly on it), some areas preserved for long periods a Virtually impenetrable enclave character. Tt took virtually the whole length of the century before the representatives of ‘law and order’ - the new police - could acquire anything ike a fogular and customary foothold within them. Yet, af the same time, the penetration of the cultures of the labouring masses fand the urban poor was Geeper, more continuous = and more continuously "educative! and reformatory ~ in that period then at any time since ‘One of the main difficulties standing In the way of a proper periodisation of popular culture is the profound transformation fn the culture of the popular classes which oceurs between the hate nd the 1820, her are whole histories yo to be ween about this period But, although there are probably many things hot right about its detail, I do think Gareth Stedman Jones's article’ on the 'Re-making of the English working cless' in this period hes drewn our attention to something fundamental and Sualitatively different and important about it. It was a period Of deep structural change. The more we look at It, the more Seon ea ee net sowewhors in This period es the Servi em probtens from which Gur history and our ‘peculiar atl ming’ changes - not just a shit — [inthe Felations of forces but a reconstitution of the terrain of political struggle itself. It isn’t just by chance that so many of the characteristic forms of what we now think of as ‘traditional! popular culture either emerge from or emerge in their distinctive houern form, in that period, What has been done for the 1790s find for the i840s, and is being done for the eighteenth century, how radieally needs to be done for the period of what we might tall the ‘social imperialist” crisis. ithe general point made earlier is true, without qualification, for this period, 20 far as popular culture is concerned. There is fo separate, autonomous, “authentic’ layer of working’ elaco Culture to be found. Much of the most immediate forms of popular fecreation, for example, are saturated by popular imperialism Could we expect otherwise? How could we explain, and what twould we do with the idea of, the culture of a dominated class which, despite its complex interior formations and Uiffercntiations, stood in a very particular relation to a major 220 Cultural studies restructuring of capital; which itself stood in « pecullar relation Tr eeeE fie wBetay & people bound hy the most complex Wits SUasnging set of material relations and conditions who ie 0. Somafow to consteuet "a cultura’ which remained ra esa'by the most powerful dominant iGeology ~ popular sree nin? apectally wen that Ideology ~ belying sts name ~ iepetinected ad much ot thom as It was at Britain's changing position in a world capitalist expansion? Ten fn tlation to the queation of popular snperitism, of the inctedy and relations between fhe people and one of the ssn eetde or cultural expresaion: the press. To go back to mee racoment and superimposition ~ wo can see clearly how the teeeartnaale-clasy press of the mid-nineteenth century was UWastreted on the back of the active destruction and cenetrafisation of the Indigenous redical and working-class aaron top of that process, something qualitatively new Prcurs towards the end of the nineteenth century and the ginning ofthe twentieth century in this area: the active, mass veeninG Ot jeveloped and mature working-class audience ito eer en dof popular, commercial pross. This has had profound see eoneeduences: though it ion't In any narrow sense SwEntNcly a Cultural! question at all, Tt required the whole cee in of the coptal basis and structure of the cultural sears ne namnessing of new forms of technology and of ina uatty mga the gotablishnent of new types of distribution, ows Prehnough the new cultural mase markets. But one of gente nas faded a reconstituting of the cultural and 4S flea! relations between the dominant and the dominated cats! change intimately connected with that containment of cay demveraey on which ‘our democratic way of life todays Free dee so aecurely based. Ite results are al to palpably appears ve P® ouays a popular press, the more strident and cee cat gradually shrinks; organised by capital 'for' the Tent Clseda; with, nevertheless, deep and snfluentat roots forklne lore and language of the "underdog", of "Us: with the aa aa dpresent the class to itself in ks most traditionalist Fo dae fe slice of the history of ‘popular culture" well worth unravelling. Be rear nE could not begin to éo so without talking about nang thinge which don't usually figure in the discussion of sree at all, They have to do with the reconstruction of eu al he size bf the collectivisms and the formation of & copia cMjacatiye’ state av much as with reereation, dance nee in OF cong AS mares Of serious Historical work, the are Pepe lat culture is lke the study of bour history and Fa neces a declare an interest in itis to correct a major Hane ee toark « significant oversight. But, ip the end, It imbalance Mahon fis seen in relation to a more gencral, & Wider history oa Nie period — the 18804-19200 - because it Is one of the real test saves for the revived interest in popular culture 231 Cultural studies Without in any way casting aspersions on the important historiea! lwork which hes boon done-and remains to do on earlier periods To‘belleve that many of the Feat ieiculules Cthevsetleal ax well ‘ss enpivionl) will only be confronted when we begin 10 examine Giosely popular culture ina period which begins to resemble Sur own, which poses the same kind of interpretive problems as our own, and which is informed by our own sense of Comenparary questions. 1 am dublous about that Kind of interest in tpoputar culture’ which comes to a sudden and unexpected halt af roughly the same point as the decline of Chartism. 1t anit by chance that very few of us aze working in popular Culture in the 1990s. 1 suspect there is something peculiarly Gukward, especially for socialists, in the pon-appearance of & hniltant, redicel mature culture of the working €la39 in the 390s when = to tell you the truth ~ most of us would have expected it {o appear. From the viewpoint of « purely ‘herole' or ‘amtonomous popular culture, the 1830s is a pretty Darren period. This ‘burronness’ ~ like the earlier unexpected richness Sha dvernity “cant be expained fron within fps cuore We have now, to begin to apeaie, not just about discontinuities sod qualitetive change, But about o very severe fracture, a deep rupture ~ especially in popular culture in the postway pea CHeEE TT Is pot only a-Matter of a-change in Pumitarfelanons between the classes, but of the changed Felationship between the people and the concentration and Expansion of the new cultural spparatuses themselves. But could cae Seriously now set out to write the history of popular culture sithout takisg Into account the monopolisation of the cultural Industries, on the back of a profound technological revolution Gx goes without saying that no ‘profound technological fevottin' ever in ty sence ‘purely echnical)” Zou Snory of the eulluee of the popUlar classes exclusively from tery of the ea aes Sem omaeruCanding the ways in whieh they ate constantly Reld-in-selation wath the iastitutlons-of ‘Sontag culbizal production, js nol to Live in the twentierh SSitury ‘The point Ts clear about the twentieth century. Believe it holds good for the nineteenth and eighteenth centuries a well, $o much for ‘some problems of periodisation’. Next, I want to say something about 'popular'. The term can havea number of different meanings: not all of them useful. Take the most common-sense meaning: the things which are Sala to be ‘popular’ because masses Of people listen to (wen, buy them, read them, consume them, snd seem to enjoy them to the full. This is the ‘market! or commercial definition of the term: the one which brings socialists out in spots. It is quite rightly associated with the manipulation and debasement of the Culture of the people. Tn one sense, it is the direct opposite of the way I have been using the word earlier. I have, though,