Term Paper: Raymond Williams Keyword: Raymond Williams' Definition

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¶ … Raymond Williams

Keyword: Raymond Williams' Definition of Culture

According to Raymond Williams, "culture" has one of the most complicated histories of any word in the English language, with such terms as civilization. The terms 'Ministry of Culture,' 'civilization' and 'cultural anthropology' not far behind. Culture had the notion of cultivation in agriculture in the early French, Latin, and Old English variants. With this came the metaphorical notion of the cultivation of the mind in the writings of Sir Thomas More, Francis Bacon, and other 17th century thinkers. Gradually, in England the process of cultivation acquired definite class associations. There also arose a corresponding German association with 'Kultur' as synonymous with civilization, as in the civilization of a particular people, but also in terms of progress from a primitive state of affairs.

This notion that the 'civilization' of modern humanity as superior to that of primitive society can be seen in Sigmund Freud, who saw the repressive instinct demanded of civilization as necessary for the advancement of other aspects or definitions of what we might call culture, although he admitted in Civilization and its Discontents: "If civilization requires such sacrifices, not only of sexuality but also of the aggressive tendencies in mankind, we can better understand why it should be so hard for men to feel happy in it. In actual fact primitive man was better off in this respect, for he knew nothing of any restrictions on his instincts" (Freud 107). Regardless, 'non-civilized' came to be understood in some renditions as 'less cultured,' that is, more instinctual and sexual.

Culture has also become synonymous with the fine arts and literature. In some nations, a specifically designated Ministry of Culture supports such efforts. A quick 'Google' of Ministry of Culture reveals that many modern nations, from Turkey, to Ethiopia, to Cambodia, to Saudi Arabia, all have ministries of culture, often associated with promoting state tourism. This suggests culture as an 'artifact' or a commodity to be sold to outsiders.

In Williams culture… [END OF PREVIEW]

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