The three readings are related to the study of culture. Frederic Jameson dwells mainly on postmodernism or the cultural logic of late modernism. Raymond Williams concentrates on analysis of culture, its different definition, and the relationships between the definitions. Stuart Hall focuses on periodization of culture, and the stages in cultural changes.
According to Jameson, characteristics of postmodernism, such as social democracy, art, welfare state, and social class, are waning slowly, but are synonymous with the century-long modernism movement. This has been replaced by modern culture such a punk and rock, commercial films, cinema and video, and pop art (Jameson, 1991).
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Another characteristic feature of postmodernism, according to Jameson, is the architectural changes that have taken place. The changes in aesthetic production of architectural designs have been greatly debated because they are visible, and they formed the foundation for the emergence of postmodernism (Heartney, 2001). Postmodernism has led to the conversion of buildings into practical sculpture, which exemplifies the level of urbanism.
According to Jameson, populism in postmodern architecture is based on the relationship between the older era that lies between high culture and commercial culture. Postmodernists tend to denounce the presence of new texts that are laced with contents reminiscent of the high modernist era (Jameson, 1991). Postmodernists concentrate on paraliterature such as science fiction, murder mysteries, biographies, and romance and fantasy books. They no longer quote from these works, but practice the lifestyles derived from these contents.
Jameson relates postmodernism to the emergence of the post industrial society. This is a society that can be referred to as the high-tech society due to the use of modern electronic gadgets. This line of theory deviates from the laws of classical capitalism such as the significance of industrial production and class struggles, the foundations of Marxian theory (Jameson, 1991). Jameson has attempted to periodize cultural styles. According to his vision of the issue, postmodernism is more than a style; it is a cultural dominant that facilitates the coexistence of different but supportive features of culture.
Raymond Williams analyses culture through three definitions. The first one is an ideal definition where culture is a process of human perfection. If to analyze culture by means of this definition, it is about the discovery and portrayal in lives and works of the values that make up an enduring order (Williams, 1995). Another way is the documentary definition of culture; in that case, culture is perceived as intellectual and creative production in which human thoughts and experience are documented.
When culture is defined in such a manner, it amounts to criticism. This is where the characteristics of the thoughts and experience, language components and the state in which they are active are of value. The last definition of culture is the social definition; culture is described as a way of life that outlines particular meanings and values through works of art, institutions, learning and common behavior. Analyzing culture through such a definition clarifies the meaning of a certain lifestyle (McGuigan, 2009). Cultural analysis by Jameson leans more on the documentary definition in which particular common laws and trends are studied to understand cultural developments.
According to Williams, analysis of culture will be incomplete without a reference to all the definitions. Williams’ analysis of culture is different from that of Jameson; Williams attempts to analyze culture taking into consideration the whole organization that it stems from, while Jameson concentrates on the period those particular values of art works emerged. Cultural analysis by Williams is the study of the relationships between the components in a lifestyle. Therefore, it focuses on the entire organization, which is the intricate side of all the relationships (Williams, 1995).
There is a close similarity between Jameson’s postmodernism and cultural analysis by Williams; both claim that the impact of former culture, which is no longer practiced, shapes the modern culture. Jameson analyses culture through periodization, which is a form of documentary analysis where the contribution of different elements of culture is outlined. From this perspective, he views cultural change not as a result of human excellence, but as a component of human evolution.
Stuart Hall departs from the periodization in the study of popular culture due to its inherent challenges. According to his opinion, popular culture is the result of class struggles associated with the change to agrarian capitalism. In his work the study of popular culture is based on class struggles (Hall, 1981). This is different from the study of postmodernism by Jameson, in which any reference to Marxian theories is opposed by postmodernists.
One similarity with postmodernism is that the deconstruction of popular culture involves a process in which certain cultural practices and forms are pushed out of the way of popular life to create room for new traditions. According to all three scientists, people are the main subject of transformation. According to Stuart (1981), popular culture is studied through containment and resistance, which are also used in cultural analysis by Williams.
Cultural periodization by Jameson focused more on the modern era and the postmodern era, while Stuart claims that the study of popular culture is a challenge without references to popular culture during 1880s to 1920s. This was a period of great cultural changes, a combination of factors and challenges that led to history and predicaments of modern humanity. This is an important period in cultural studies, which introduces an independent and genuine group of working class culture.
Another similarity between deconstruction of popular culture and postmodernism is the role of capitalism and the rise of collectivism, and the construction of a modern knowledgeable state where entertainment and recreation shape culture. The readings by Frederic, Williams and Stuart analyze the cultural changes that occurred in the twentieth century and their impacts on modern and postmodern culture.
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