Sociology and cultural studies

An interrupted dialogue

Authored by: Nick Couldry

Handbook of Cultural Sociology

Print publication date:  July  2010
Online publication date:  September  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415474450
eBook ISBN: 9780203891377
Adobe ISBN: 9781134026159


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Nearly half a century ago, Raymond Williams (1961: 10) wrote that there was no academic subject that allowed him to ask the questions in which he was interested— questions of how culture and society, democracy, and the individual voice interrelate. The early tradition of cultural studies emerged into this gap, drawing in part on the resources of sociology. Looking back, the historical parallel between Williams and the critical sociology of C. Wright Mills was not accidental, since that too privileged the role of power in culture and cultural analysis (Mills 1959: 33, quoted in Hall et al. 2003: 2). From the beginning, then, the robustness of cultural studies’ relationship with sociology was crucial to cultural studies’ possibilities of success. This relationship has been interrupted, but can, I suggest, still be revived under today’s very different circumstances.

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