'An accessible, engaging book' - TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies
This important book traces the continuing influence on contemporary cultural studies of the kinds of cultural materialism developed by Raymond Williams and his successors. Williams now often appears in cultural studies as a vaguely remembered 'founding father', rather than a theorist whose work is still actively relevant to our present condition. Milner's book restores Williams to a central position in relation to the formation and development of cultural studies. It stresses the differences between Williams and that other founding father, Richard Hoggart, arguing that the label 'culturalism' cannot properly be applied to both. It argues that Williams stands in an essentially analogous relation to the British 'culturalist' tradition as do Foucault and Bourdieu to French structuralism and Habermas to German critical theory and that his cultural materialism is not so much culturalist as positively 'post-culturalist'.
To those who have complained that contemporary cultural studies is insufficiently concerned with history, embeddedness and political economy, Milner suggests that this is so, in part, because Williams has become such a neglected resource. The book is a much needed reappraisal of the Williams approach, correcting misinterpretations and demonstrating its singular relevance to the problems and potentials facing cultural studies today. What emerges most powerfully is a logically consistent and penetrating way of 'doing cultural studies' that successfully challenges many of the dominant approaches in the field.