Culture, Raymond Williams once wrote, is one of the most difficult words in language. Since then the concept has become part of our everyday vocabulary; it is used in a variety of different contexts: to describe the behaviour of corporations or criminals; to provide personal and national identity; it even gives its name to a Department of State.
In this engaging new textbook, Fred Inglis charts the history of the concept from its origins in the German Enlightenment to contemporary attempts to come to terms with the cultural impact of globalization. Drawing on the work of leading philosophers and theorists, the author adopts a broadly chronological approach to explore the changing definitions and contestations of culture over time. He concludes by highlighting the potential shortcomings of postmodernism, and argues for the continuing need to apply ancient values of truthfulness, goodness and beauty to all discussions of culture.
This lively introduction will be of interest to undergraduate students and scholars in sociology, politics, anthropology, cultural and media studies.
Table of Contents
- 1. Birth of a Concept
- 2. Culture and Politics
- 3. Culture and the Science of Humanity
- 4. Culture and Redemption: Literature and Judgement
- 5. The Social Production of Culture
- 6. Culture and Postmodernism: The Good, the True and the Beautiful
“Anyone with the least interest in culture, whether student or general reader, will want to read Fred Inglis's Culture . There could hardly be a better short introduction to the subject, beginning with a most wonderful description of the origins of the concept through his account of the perplexing postmodern culture wars.”
— Charles Lemert, Wesleyan University
“Fred Inglis's Culture is bold, stimulating, frequently provocative, never dull. Inglis navigates the many conceptual intricacies of the concept of culture elegantly and provides a set of instructive perspectives on its deployment – always resisting the temptation to reduce the inherent complexity of the idea. If the result is something more akin to a passionate and erudite essay than to a standard introductory text, this must clearly be counted a virtue.”
— John Tomlinson, Nottingham Trent University