In the opening chapter of The Long Revolution (1961), Raymond Williams argues that ‘[e]verything we see and do, the whole structure of our relationships and institutions, depends, finally, on an effort of learning, description and communication’. In what was to become a radical challenge to the dominant modes of literary and cultural study, Williams concluded that:
If all activity depends on responses learned by the sharing of descriptions, we cannot set ‘art’ on one side of a line and ‘work’ on the other; we cannot submit to be divided into ‘Aesthetic Man’ and ‘Economic Man.’
Williams goes on, in his chapter on ‘The Analysis of Culture’, to challenge an historical methodology based upon the assumption that ‘the bases of society, its political, economic, and “social” arrangements, form the central core of facts, after which the art and theory can be adduced, for marginal illustration or “correlation”’, and a literary methodology which privileged its own formal laws of composition while relegating this central core of facts to the status of ‘background’. His call in 1961 was for a cultural history which had to be ‘more than the sum of the particular histories, for it is with the relations between them, the particular forms of the whole organisation, that it is especially concerned’. Thus, Williams’ ‘theory of culture’ could subsequently be defined as ‘the study of the relationships between elements in a whole way of life’.