Monday, 7 June 2021

About the (Y)EA

An association is a group of people having a common interest. The (Yorkshire-and-everywhere-else) Educational Association is a group of authors, journalists, activists, academics, artists, farmers and homemakers with a common interest in the development of a sane and sustainable social order.

Way back in 1957 Richard Hoggart observed:

"We all need to remember, every day and more and more, that in the last resort there is no such person as 'the common man'. If we do not, we may in the end have allowed individual decision to slip away in our dutiful democratic identification of ourselves with a hypothetical figure whose main value is to those who will mislead us. We need to hold fast to the basic facts about the nature of popular publications — that they are now the products of large-scale commercial organizations, that they belong not to the history of the Press properly speaking, nor to affairs, nor to politics, but to entertainment; that their handling of opinion' is a largely irrational manipulation for the purposes of entertainment, that when one of these papers says, 'We give the facts. . . astounding. . this is not so much a statement of their attitude as an entertainer's patter, of the same order as, 'There's nothing up my sleeve.'

"Writing in the latter part of the last century, William Morris regretted the lack of a popular art and looked forward to its revival: 'Popular art has no chance of a healthy life or, indeed, of a life at all, till we are on the way to fill up this terrible gap between riches and poverty.' If that gap were closed there might be an end, he continued, to: 'that fatal division of men into the cultivated and degraded classes which competitive commerce has bred and fosters'. " (Hoggart 1957 p242. See YEA Booklist)

The question is, who are "those who will mislead us"? In the decade following World War II, Hoggart studied the ways in which the mass media were opening new worlds to new readers, at the same time as they were exploiting and debasing standards and behaviour. Have the magazines, books, films and internet technology 'for the millions' proved on balance a social benefit or a social danger?

The questions Hoggart raises, and his study of the assumptions, attitudes and morals of the working class of the North of England, remain as pertinent as ever. Hence the inclusion of The Uses of Literature in the YEA BOOKLIST. Read on... 

See ESSAYS\YEA Page of

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