After postmodernism : cultures, community and radical democracy.
This thesis sets out to elaborate a theoretical framework for Cultural Studies which specifically informed by post-Marxist theory and committed to a radical democratic politics of community.The late work of Raymond Williams is taken as exemplifying Marxist cultural theory and is re-read in the light of Laclau and Mouffe's deconstruction of the Marxist
tradition. As a result, a framework is offered for the analysis of 'cultural' formations which seeks to preserve Williams' concern with rigorously assessing the politicality of such
formations in a manner appropriate to a radical democratic politics. The thesis then turns its attention to key areas of debate and ambiguity within postMarxist
cultural theory. In particular, the debate over the epistemological status of psychoanalysis is addressed. This debate is seen to give rise to an important set of
questions regarding the relationships between deconstruction, psychoanalysis and historicism and their relative implications for understanding the nature of subjectivity andsociality. A number of different models of individual and social processes of identification are examined. It is argued that it is necessary to maintain and deploy models which are capable of understanding such processes as forms of irreducibly social experience in ways which models grounded in psychoanalysis cannot do, but without simply discarding the legacy of psychoanalysis altogether. The final section of the thesis applies the theoretical frameworks thus far developed to the study of recent British culture. In the first of these studies, the phenomenon of 'Britpop' is understood as deeply bound up with the success of New Labour and its attempted mobilisation of an inclusive yet socially conservative model of both British identity and political participation. The second study contrasts Britpop /Blairism with contemporary 'dance' culture, characterised as it is by radically democratic tendencies and the absence of any hegemonic project.