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Culture Wars

Culture Wars is the reviews website of the Institute of Ideas (IoI) in London. In keeping with the IoI's aim of shaping the future through debate, we review books, films, theatre, art and talk events, with a view to understanding how political and other ideas filter through the culture, and how the arts in turn influence politics and culture more generally. We also publish essays, interviews and other articles on the arts, culture and society.  

'Culture' is often presented as a vast accumulation of commodities to be browsed and consumed by passive audiences. In this view, the role of the critic is banal. Critics trawl through the marketplace and advise us, as the annoying phrase has it, 'what's hot and what's not'. Culture Wars is different. We want to engage with cultural life, to discuss it, and argue over it. And we want to encourage others to join in.

Thematic reviews

We believe that cultural output tells us a great deal about the society we live in. As well as assessing books, plays, films and so on for themselves, we are keen to draw out the way they express contemporary ideas. Ideas like multiculturalism, environmentalism, evolutionary psychology, and social exclusion, to name just a few, appear in the most unlikely places. By engaging with contemporary culture we can come to a better understanding of society more generally.

Critical engagement with arts practitioners

Culture Wars continues the spirit of Round Table Rumbles, a series of live review events organised by the Institute of Ideas with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe between 2001 and 2004, and at the National Theatre in London in 2005. Panels of critics discussed a selection of shows relating to a different theme each night, with writers, directors and performers, as well as ordinary fringe-goers, invited to join in the discussion. Without compromising critical judgement, our aim is to encourage engagement between critics and performers, avoiding self-important showboating on the part of critics, and self-serving cynicism on the part of practitioners. Our reviewers are committed to the art forms they write about, and we encourage submissions from practitioners themselves.

Culture Wars reviewers

We do not currently pay contributors, but we offer a space for all and any writers who share our aims. Some of our writers are professionals who make a living writing for other publications. Others are amateurs in the best sense of the word, writing for the love of the arts. Our reviewers include arts practitioners - writers, directors or performers in their own right - as well as more expert critics. We welcome unsolicited reviews, in the hope of establishing Culture Wars as nursery for new writing talent, as well as a home for established writers who share our commitment to the arts and ideas.

Culture Wars people

Dolan Cummings editor
Shirley Dent development editor
Andrew Haydon commissioning editor, theatre 
Ion Martea commissioning editor, film 
Sarah Boyes commissioning editor, books 


All articles on this site � Culture Wars.