The Power of Independent Thinking

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Culture and Society

“Culture or Civilization, taken in its wide ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.”
—Edward Tylor, The Origins of Culture (1871)

Tylor’s description has its critics, but few would dispute the notion that culture encompasses both perceptible and intangible components distributed across a society by its social institutions. More contentious is the evaluation of particular components, that is, assessments of whether or not some cultural product—be it a television show, a literary genre, a traditional custom, or new lifestyle—is good for the individual and society.

Independent Institute fellows look at cultural issues through various lenses—economic, historical, and philosophical. Using these modes of analysis, they identify unspoken assumptions in popular culture, academia, and political institutions, and they challenge the ones they believe undermine liberty, prosperity, and human dignity.


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