From Cultural Studies to Cultural Science

This paper, first presented at a symposium on the ‘past, present and future of cultural studies,’ traces disciplinary changes in the study of culture from the perspective of ‘cultural science,’ a term that was used by some of the earliest practitioners of cultural studies, including Raymond Williams. The paper goes on to describe some problems with cultural studies as it has become institutionalised. It suggests that some of the concerns of the present moment, including work on the creative industries, show that a new version of cultural science is needed, based on evolutionary principles, in dialogue with the evolutionary approach in economics that was called for a century ago by Thorstein Veblen. This evolutionary turn, or ‘cultural science 2.0,’ it is argued, offers a radical and challenging future for cultural studies.

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