Summer/Fall 1999 • Vol. XXI No. 3/4 NonfictionJuly 1, 1999 |

Is Culture an Industry?

Does it make any sense to talk of the arts as "cultural industry"? What sort of relationships does this imply between the world of industry and management and the world of arts and culture? Traditionally the two words came from quite separate domains and have been sharply distinguished from one another from the sixteenth century onwards. In writings of the Romantic and Victorian periods, culture (particularly in the sense of artistic activity) and industry (seen as rational and material) were consistently opposed. How is it, then, that the two words have now come to be married as "cultural industry"? Certainly the term is gaining currency. A search on the Internet suggests that there are over twelve hundred pages referring to it. It is frequently in the mouths of those in power. The British Secretary of State for Culture, in a brief 1998 message, managed to use it approvingly three times while defending cuts in the finances of the Arts Council. All of this suggests that for many peo

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