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'Culture' is a concept that has remained on the top of the agenda within the social sciences for two decades. This book, updated throughout and with new sections on visual culture, urban culture and subcultures, argues that to understand the concept we need to locate it within traditions of thought and appreciate its political and ideological bases. The book looks at the concept of culture in the context of idealism and materialism, examining its relation to the notion of social structure and assessing its once assumed monopoly within literary study.