A Culture for Democracy: Mass Communication and the Cultivated Mind in Britain between the Wars

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This book analyses the relationship between commercial and elite culture in Britain in the early twentieth century. The development of popular national daily newspapers, the cinema, the radio, the gramophone, and other forms of mass entertainment threatened to upset traditional patterns of British culture. Writers, artists, musicians, critics, and their sympathizers responded in a variety of ways. Some engaged in detailed polemics against the mass media; others, such as those associated with the BBC, embraced new technology and sought to uplift tastes. These groups struggled against a culture that measured success by popularity rather than aesthetic merit. With the significant extension of the franchise in 1918 and 1928, Britain finally enjoyed full parliamentary democracy. What culture was appropriate for that democracy became an issue which pitted the forces of the market place against the influence of an articulate minority.