Since the election of a New Labour government, the cultural domain has been politically charged like never before. Official manifestos have been published and public projects have proliferated, signalling a level of ideological attention to culture unprecedented in democratic societies. This is an era of cultural capitalism, in which an extremely static conception of culture is required to absorb or efface ideological conflict, rather than give expression to it, or otherwise resolve it. Art and design, film and architecture take on the role of cementing national identity, of staging the collapse of artistic into economic value and of categorically separating political commitment from individual experience.
Cultural Capitalism presents a series of differing inflections of the relationship between politics and culture. Its contributors include a veteran of the cultural studies wars in America, a business consultant on cultural affairs in Europe and scholars working in the fields of politics and cultural theory. The first half of the book examines the state of interdisciplinary studies, critically assessing their ability to grapple with the current phase of capitalist expansion. The second half looks explicitly at the cultural politics of New Labour, including its relationship to discourses of managerialism, its fascination with grands projects and its self-mythologizing investment in the concept of spin.
This book resists the defeatist suggestion that politics is now merely cultural politics, but also challenges those who find the contamination of politics by culture unacceptable. It will be indispensable to students and observers of the contemporary political scene, to those curious about whatever happened to cultural studies and to everyone frustrated at the impoverishment of art, culture and politics in the current climate.