Raymond Williams (1960) criticises society for it being ‘bourgeois’, highlighting the issues community faces due to the overall society revolving around the different social classes. He makes it clear that the most influential factors in that era were solely based on money-orientated and materialistic people.
Williams divided the community into to major sections: service and solidarity.
Where we think of service currently, we relate it to community and civil service; duties that effect the society we live in through contribution from members of the public. What the author emphasises is how it was very much based on the higher achy system, consisting essentially of upper and lower servants. Self-services was highlighted as the most valuable aspect.
As Williams states, they would try and represent conformity and respect for authority through servant training; although the ones in control, would argue that having these different classes of servants was more like leadership training. Rather than being a service they would be seen as a government. This highlights his idea stating that it is based around ‘social classes’.
Working class people were the ones who fell victims to these ‘services’. Williams says that they would be referred to as a ‘government’ rather than providing a service. This proves his theory that by not seeing it as a service it gave the working class people a slight feeling of importance and involvement in ‘civilisation’ when in reality they were simply being ‘selfish’. He specifically states in his work that their ‘selfishness is hidden through the idea of status quo’.
This had evidently changed over the years, as we all do have a say, irrelevant of what social class we belong too or our financial status; we essentially all have a choice now whereas they did not.
These ‘lower servants’ have a society of their own he believed which was based on ‘solidarity’ which is where he suggested that they had to work together to achieve. The ‘ladder theory’ suggests that only one person could ‘climb’ to succeed. I do not agree with this statement. Personally, I do believe that people should work together as it is easier to succeed as such, but more than one can climb the ladder. Although it was much more of a challenge in his era than it is now, they did not realise how much of a different together they would make. My theory does support his views on the fact that being so controlled effects peoples abilities, stating ‘a man should be allowed to better himself’.
Obviously, I find it quite difficult to be able to relate Williams idea of Culture and Society to todays generation. We have progressed drastically, in a sense that although the different social classes still exists they do not have such an input on how we each live our lives. Community is felt and defined differently by each and every person, and the ‘working class’ currently are achieving on their own, without ‘services’ and the rest.
Williams, R. (1960). Culture and Society. London: Anchor, ‘Conclusion’, pp.314-324.