Matthew Arnold 's Culture And Anarchy Essay

Matthew Arnold 's Culture And Anarchy Essay

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Matthew Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy (1869) divulges into the concerns he has for the ‘moral and spiritual’ future of society, due to the pressures of the machines and therefore the essence of civilisation was declining. Arnold believed the ‘high cultured’ should be the ones to enforce idealism, to create “the best that has been thought and said in the world”. He saw culture as the strive to perfection and that due the popular culture rejecting this, there would be anarchy. In other words, ‘anarchy’ operates as a synonym for popular culture for Arnold. He believed that education from the elite would be the best pursuit for ‘perfection’ for the “raw and uncultivated”, because the masses wouldn’t know what’s good for them. Not only this but how mass society would be a threat to the ‘good’ in culture. However, as Alloway argues “the definition of culture is changing as result of the pressure of the great audience” (Alloway, cited in Madoff, 1997, p. 9) and due to the changes post war, such as multiculturalism, massive developments in technology, youth cultures and a simple change of attitudes, I do not agree with Arnold’s work.
For Arnold, culture should aim to provide the ‘best’ knowledge and therefore should be concerned to “to make reason and the will of God prevail” (REFERENCE). This means that culture should attempt to be the greatest and to provide knowledge to improve humankind by targeting the “inward condition of the mind and spirit” (REFERENCE). He believed that the social function of culture was to police the working class, or as he called them, the ‘Populace’, as these were the ones causing complications. He saw the habits of the working class masses to not have any worth, as they posed a threat to the stability of socie...


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...different and I think it depends on what you bring to it. I find it reductive to suggest that the State should be in charge in deciding what is right for culture, because ultimately culture is forever changing and we cannot pin it down. When defining the terms of cultural identity, Stuart Hall (1990, p.223) recognises two different characterisations within this and explains the first as being “in terms of one, shared culture, a sort of collective ‘one true self’ hiding inside the many other, more superficial selves” and the “second position recognises that, as well as the many points of similarity there are also … differences ... to create one experience, one identity”. Subcultures in today’s society can be an example of this; that there is a common set of desires for origins, longing for identification within a group, juxtaposed with the desire of being individual.

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