Stuart Hall from an interview in 1998

It’s quite difficult to define. You could say something very general – that culture is the dimension of meaning and the symbolic – but cultural studies has always looked at this in the context of the social relations in which it occurs, and asked questions about the organization of power. So it’s cultural power, I think, that is the crux of what distinguishes cultural studies from, say, classical studies, which is after all the study of the culture of Roman times. There are all kinds of cu ltural studies going on, but this interest in combining the study of symbolic forms and meanings with the study of power has always been at the centre. However varied the appropriation becomes, I would hesitate to call it cultural studies if that element was not there. So I would distinguish between cultural studies and certain versions of deconstruction, for instance. A lot of deconstructionists do work which they consider to be a kind of cultural studies. But a formal deconstructionism which isn’t askin g questions about the insertion of symbolic processes into societal contexts and their imbrication with power is not interested in the cultural studies problematic, as I see it; although it may be a perfectly appropriate practice. It doesn’t mean that deconstruction is ruled out. But around the circumference of cultural studies there has always been this link with something else: cultural studies and psychoanalysis; cultural studies and feminism; cultural studies and race.”

Source: ‘Culture and power’ Interviews – November/December 1998,


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