Mass Media in a Mass Society: Myth and Reality

Richard Hoggart, famous for his writings on literature, education and the means of communication, and especially for his influential book The Uses of Literacy , has written a new work in which he looks at the ways in which mass communications in the twenty-first century both encourage and hinder greater understanding of the modern world. Hoggart takes a number of aspects of mass society today - celebrity worship, youth culture, broadcasting and a decline in the proper use of language - and considers the paradox that the ready accessibility of information of all types does not automatically lead to greater comprehension of our world. Information itself is inert and only leads to knowledge if it has been ordered and assessed. He assesses the slow but uninterrupted dissolution of old beliefs, in particular the widespread corruption of language. He analyzes the erosion of the traditional pillars of authority throughout a century and a half of sustained intellectual criticism of existing assumptions and beliefs, especially in the religious sphere. Throughout the book, Hoggart examines broadcasting as the prime disseminator of mass information. He makes an impassioned argument for Public Service Broadcasting in its truest form, and sees the Public Service ideal as coming increasingly under attack from today's BBC broadcasters - people who seem to believe that the overwhelming function of television today is to entertain.