Culture Wars, then and now, ep 6: ‘The culture of disenchantment’

Adorno and Horkheimer’s critique of the culture industry argued that movies and mass-produced entertainment represented the ‘de-artification’ or commodification of art by capitalism: an inauthentic and formulaic regurgitation of reality that deceived its audiences. The real thing was difficult and hard to understand: modernism separated itself off from mass culture in order to try and save high culture. Heidegger, too, argued that we had become enchanted with technology and needed to find a way back to beauty. Postmodernism took up the debate the other way – looking to debunk the authority of high culture with the irony of kitsch and the elevation of the everyday – moving from abstraction to art as a construct glorifying the role of the artist. Either way, the disenchantment of culture has left us with an ongoing war between low and high, new and old.

Angus Kennedy, author, Being Cultured: in defence of discrimination; co-editor (with James Panton), From Self to Selfie: a critique of contemporary alienation.

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Culture Wars: then and now, ep 5: ‘The crisis of bourgeois ideology’

This lecture on the crisis of bourgeois ideology, from Nietzsche to Heidegger, is a pre-history of today’s culture wars. It explores the broad sweep and trajectory of modernist culture, from the mid nineteenth century through to the interwar years of the 20th century.

Dr Tim Black, books and essays editor, Spiked.

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Culture Wars, then and now, ep 4: ‘Family matters’

For a long time the family has been viewed as the location of all sorts of social and moral problems and are where many of the key discussions in the culture wars have traditionally been played out. But recently the focus seems to have shifted from traditional issues such as marriage, sexual freedom or abortion to the questions of parenting – resulting in more instrumental, and less moral arguments approaches to family life coming to the fore. This lecture traces these developments and clarifies whether and why the family matters.


Dr Jan Macvarish, visiting research fellow at the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies, University of Kent; author of Neuroparenting: the expert invasion of family life.

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Culture wars, then and now, ep 3: ‘The role of the state in education’

The debate surrounding Parkfield school in Birmingham and wider discussion on the role of sex and relationship classes within educational programmes, are just the latest incidences of schools becoming a battlefield for the culture wars.

Starting with developments in the 1870s when the state intervention in schooling in England & Wales became more pronounced, James Tooley explores the impact of the ethos of state control over education right up to today’s controversies over Relationship and Sex Education

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Culture Wars, then and now, ep 2: ‘The emergence of the culture wars’

This is the second podcast to the series Culture Wars: then and now, recorded in 2019 at the summer school The Academy. The series explores the emergence and evolution of the culture wars, and aims to understand the intellectual, cultural, social and political ideas that shape them.

In this lecture, Frank Furedi introduces the concept of the culture wars, explores its historical context and outlines how changing conceptions of morality and the status of moral authority distinguish today’s culture wars from those that took place in the past.

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