Entertainment & Arts

Academic and author Richard Hoggart dies, aged 95

Richard Hoggart Image copyright Hulton Archive
Image caption Richard Hoggart was a member of the committee in the 1960s that led to the creation of BBC Two

Academic and author Richard Hoggart, whose writing influenced ideas about the quality of life, education and the media, has died aged 95.

He was best known for his 1957 book, The Uses of Literacy.

Prof Hoggart had a long association with the BBC as a member of the General Advisory Council, and he was a Reith lecturer.

He was a driving force behind the Pilkington Committee which led to the founding of BBC Two.

The Guardian newspaper said it had received confirmation of his death from his family. His son, Guardian journalist Simon Hoggart, died in January.

Popular consumerism

Richard Hoggart was brought up in Leeds in a working-class background, and was orphaned at the age of eight.

His experiences played a part in the thesis of his influential book, The Uses of Literacy, in which he argued the working classes deserved better in educational and cultural terms than society provided for them.

The book was written in 1957, but Hoggart fought all his life against popular consumerism - what he described as the corrupt brightness of mass entertainments.

He once said: "If you put the most important cultural elements in society into the hands of commercial people who want to make a profit they will bring it down to the lowest common denominator."

In a long career he was, among other things, a professor of English at Birmingham University, assistant director general of Unesco and vice-chairman of the Arts Council.

He founded the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies which influenced academic interest in cultural and media studies around the world.

Rejected peerage

A champion of liberal thinking, Hoggart was a key defence witness at the Lady Chatterley obscenity trial in 1960.

Among his later targets were terms such as positive discrimination and senior citizens.

He said: "Senior citizens is a bogus attribution. It was dreamed up in an ad agency or a PR office. It's cheap and insincere flattery, and anybody over 50 should reject it."

Despite his many distinguished posts, he refused a knighthood and a peerage.

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