By S. Aronowitz
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Additional info for Against Orthodoxy: Social Theory and Its Discontents
Science depends on observation, mathematical calculation, and experiment, while the various forms of speculation—philosophy, mythology, poetry—lack the ground from which theorizing might attain the lofty perches of apodictic reason. If David Hume (1978) was right to call attention to the unreliability of the senses in the accumulation of knowledge, Immanuel Kant’s (1929) solution—to posit subordinate knowledge of the senses to the categories of mind and to install the primacy of method, grounded both in observation and in algorithms of verification and proof—is held as the corrective.
Williams was, at the 28 Against Orthodoxy ● end of the day, a somewhat murky theoretical thinker whose thought manifests itself in a characteristic British disdain for abstraction and complex theoretical formulations. But more than any writer of his generation, it was his insistence on the persistence of practices, such as those of trade unionism, that were ordinarily viewed by critics as outside culture, that inspired the group that elaborated cultural studies after 1965. For the critical shift of the regime of cultural studies in Hoggart’s era to that of Hall’s stewardship at CCCS consists precisely in the latter’s privileging ethnography over criticism.
Field studies, such as those of Paul Willis’s Learning to Labor and Dick Hebdige’s Subculture, done in the 1970s, marked a new direction for cultural studies that had been signaled by Williams’s implicit repudiation of the premises of high literary criticism in The Long Revolution, and by his studies of television and communications In what sense is Williams straddling the boundary between addressing representations such as literary texts and the “pressing of the flesh” that forms the core of ethnographic study?
Against Orthodoxy: Social Theory and Its Discontents by S. Aronowitz