The Value of Culture

What exactly is culture? Melvyn Bragg is here to help us answer that question through his five-part Radio 4 series, The Value of Culture.


  1. Culture and Anarchy, explores Matthew Arnold’s ideas about culture being a powerful force for good.
  2. Culture and the Anthropologists, considers the importance of culture to the discipline of anthropology.
  3. Two Cultures, looks back at 150 years of dialogue between the arts and sciences.
  4. Mass Culture, charts the rise of mass culture in the 20th century.
  5. What’s the Value of Culture Today? A debate on the meaning and value of culture today.

From openculture:

Need we call culture anything more specific than the body of things that mankind makes? Does culture work as a force for good? What does culture look like from an anthropological perspective? Must works reach a certain standard, or display certain qualities, to count as culture? What does the gap between the sciences and the humanities mean for culture? How did “mass culture” come about, as opposed to “high culture”? And what does all this say about the culture we have today? Assembling his typically impressive range of luminaries from across the British intellectual landscape, Bragg asks these questions and many more besides, using as a point of departure ninetheenth-century poet, critic, and school inspector Matthew Arnold’s description of culture as “the best which has been thought and said” which provides life its “sweetness and light.” But much has changed in how we regard culture since the nineteenth century, and here we have just the program to get us thinking harder than ever about it.