Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
In contemporary political theory, culture appears most—or rather cultures appear most—in discussions about whether liberalism can or should accommodate, or even foster, multiculturalism. When understood as an overarching way of life that gives sense and significance to those who live it, culture may unsettle liberalism, the dominant political doctrine of our times, and its contemporary expression as the separation of the right and the good. However, both these discussions and this understanding of culture emerged only recently and after several centuries of rich engagement with the idea of culture. Although contemporary discussions are doubtlessly better situated and critiqued against this historical backdrop, this history is important in its own right. This history also points to other important themes of, or approaches to, political theory. Before Europeans began to use it in the plural in the latter half of the nineteenth century, the word culture was used more or less civilization. ...