Culture: The Anthropologists' Account

Culture: The Anthropologists' Account

Culture: The Anthropologists' Account

Culture: The Anthropologists' Account

Excerpt

I don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I’d never heard
the damned word.

Raymond Williams

American academics are waging culture wars. (Not many dead.) Politicians urge cultural revolution. Apparently a seismic cultural change is needed to resolve the problems of poverty, drug abuse, crime, illegitimacy, and industrial competitiveness. There is talk of cultural differences between the sexes and the generations, between football teams, or between advertising agencies. When a merger between two companies fails, it is explained that their cultures were not compatible. The beauty of it is that everyone understands. “We tried to sell ‘semiotics,’ but we found it a bit difficult,” reported a London company called Semiotic Solutions, “so now we sell ‘culture.’ They know that one. You don’t have to explain it.” And there is no call to sell culture short. “Culture rules the roost in terms of motivating consumer behavior,” claims the company brochure, “more persuasive than reason, more ‘mass’ than psychology.” There is also a thriving secondary market in cultural discourse.

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