Richard Hoggart: The Uses of Literacy

(2155 words)
  • Charlotte Stevens (The Open University)

Richard Hoggart’s The Uses of Literacy (1957) is a book of two halves. Hoggart had initially planned to write a guide to different aspects of popular culture hence he began writing what became the second half of the book. However, the desire to locate popular culture within his readers’ lives led him to write the first half; it is here that we discover Hoggart’s broad definitions of the working classes, his explorations of their customs, relations and attitudes.

The first half (“An ‘Older’ Order”) is essentially autobiographical, based upon Hoggart’s memoir of growing up as a working-class boy in Leeds during the 1920s and 30s. In an interview with John Corner, Hoggart speaks of “try[ing] to write …

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Stevens, Charlotte. "The Uses of Literacy". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 12 July 2006
[, accessed 01 October 2016.]