In Praise of Commercial Culture

In Praise of Commercial Culture

In Praise of Commercial Culture

In Praise of Commercial Culture

Synopsis

Does a market economy encourage or discourage music, literature, and the visual arts? Do economic forces of supply and demand help or harm the pursuit of creativity? This book seeks to redress the current intellectual and popular balance and to encourage a more favorable attitude towards the commercialization of culture that we associate with modern life.

Excerpt

Does a market economy encourage or discourage music, literature, and the visual arts? Do economic forces of supply and demand help or harm the pursuit of creativity?

I present market enterprise and productive wealth as allies of cultural production. I seek to redress the current intellectual and popular balance and to encourage a more favorable attitude towards the commercialization of culture that we associate with modernity. The capitalist market economy is a vital but underappreciated institutional framework for supporting a plurality of coexisting artistic visions, providing a steady stream of new and satisfying creations, helping consumers and artists refine their tastes, and paying homage to the eclipsed past by capturing, reproducing, and disseminating it. This book presents some social mechanisms that link markets, wealth, and creativity, examines how these mechanisms have operated throughout cultural history, and attempts to account for the widespread perception that modernity suffers from a cultural malaise.

I develop several related themes concerning culture. First, I contrast cultural optimism with some opposing philosophies of cultural pessimism. Differing varieties of cultural pessimism are found among conservatives, neo-conservatives, the Frankfurt School, and some versions of the political correctness and multiculturalist movements, as well as in the history of ideas more generally. The first four chapters offer a critique of these views, and the final chapter offers a deconstruction of them.

Second, I redefine the distinction between popular or "low" culture, and "high" culture from a cultural optimist perspective. When viewed in the long term, successful high culture usually comes out of a . . .

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