Since the European Renaissance the topic of culture, its forms, values, history and so on, has been specifically, but not exclusively, the province of intellectuals. There have of course been periodic crises when authors or critics have despaired of the sterility or decadence of a particular era or style, but in general the privileges of intellectuals in relation to culture have not been challenged. A theme to which we shall return several times is that the turn to culture in social thought has been occasioned by a crisis in intellectual confidence.