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Working class

Preceded by: folk culture - peasant culture

Related: class - Industrial Revolution - "low" culture - popular culture - proletariat - society

Contrast: "high" culture

Working class culture

Working class culture is a range of cultures created by or popular among working class people. The cultures can be contrasted with high culture and folk culture and are sometimes equated with popular culture and low culture (the counterpart of high culture).

Working class culture is extremely geographically diverse, leading some to question whether the cultures have anything in common. Many socialists with a class struggle viewpoint see its importance as arising from the proletariat they champion. Some states which claim to be Communist have declared an official working class culture, most notable socialist realism, which aims to glorify the worker. It should be noted that glorification of the worker in abstract is seldom a feature of independent working class cultures. Others socialists such as Lenin believed that there could be no authentic proletarian culture free from capitalism, nor that high culture should not be outside the experience of workers.

Working class cultures developed alongside the working class itself, during the Industrial Revolution. As most of the new proletariat were former peasants, so the cultures took on much of the localised folk culture. This was soon altered by the changed conditions of social relationships and the increased mobility of the workforce, and later by the marketing of mass-produced cultural artefacts such as prints and ornaments and events such as music hall and later cinema. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Working_class_culture [May 2005]

Blue collar and basic instinct

"Blue-collar" is also an epithet derived from the "blue-collar worker," used to describe the environment of the "blue-collar worker": i.e., a "blue-collar" neighborhood, job, factory, restaurant, bar, etc., or a situation descriptive of use of manual effort and the strength required to do such. It can also be used as a derogatory adjective to describe something crude, simple, lacking sophistication, or appealing to basic instinct: i.e., a blue-collar joke. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue-collar_worker [Jul 2005]

Mass readership in the Victorian era

For the first time, pornography was produced in a volume capable of satisfying a mass readership.

Oddly, the industry was founded by a gang of political radicals who used sales of erotica to subsidise their campaigning and pamphleteering: when, in the 1840s, the widely-anticipated British revolution failed to materialise, these booksellers and printers found that their former sideline had become too profitable to relinquish. Lubricious stories such as Lady Pokingham, or, They All Do it (1881), and hardcore daguerreotypes, photographs and magic lantern slides, demonstrate the omnivorous nature of Victorian sexuality.

Don't imagine that this material comprised tame pictures of gartered ladies standing in front of cheese plants; any permutation or peccadillo you can conceive is represented in the work that has survived from the period. And it was produced in huge quantities: in 1874, the Pimlico studio of Henry Hayler, one of the most prominent producers of such material was loaded up with 130,248 obscene photographs and five thousand magic lantern slides - which gives some idea of the extent of its appeal. --Matthew Sweet, Sex, Drugs and Music Hall, 01-08-2001, http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/society_culture/society/pleasure_03.shtml [Jun 2004]

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