BBC Four aspires to be the most culturally enriching channel in UK broadcasting. It aims to ... become the channel of distinction for people who love to think.BBC Four will continue to ... approach subject matter at a level of depth, detail and authority second to none ... The channel is curious about the role of arts and culture in our modern society. That includes tackling some of the big arts subjects like ballet and sculpture, as well as examining how science has shaped our culture.The aim is to offer discourse and insight through factual, drama and entertainment programming. BBC Four will continue to employ style and wit, to entertain as it informs and to be as enjoyable as it is knowledgeable and insightful.
A term introduced by Pierre Bourdieu to refer to the symbols, ideas, tastes, and preferences that can be strategically used as resources in social action. He sees this cultural capital as a ‘habitus’, an embodied socialized tendency or disposition to act, think, or feel in a particular way. By analogy with economic capital, such resources can be invested and accumulated and can be converted into other forms. Thus, middle-class parents are able to endow their children with the linguistic and cultural competences that will give them a greater likelihood of success at school and at university. Working-class children, without access to such cultural resources, are less likely to be successful in the educational system. Thus, education reproduces class inequalities. Bourdieu sees the distribution of economic and cultural capital as reinforcing each other. Educational success—reflecting initial cultural capital—is the means through which superior, higher-paying occupations can be attained, and the income earned through these jobs may allow the successful to purchase a private education for their children and so enhance their chances of educational success. This ‘conversion’ of one form of capital into another is central to the intragenerational or intergenerational reproduction of class differences.
From A Dictionary of Sociology by John Scott and Gordon Marshall. Oxford University Press 2009.
Junk food does bad things to your body and junk media does bad things to your mind. A burger’s fine once in a while, but if that’s all you eat you’ll damage your health and get fat. People who only watch the kind of television which features so-called celebrities force-feeding each other kangaroo genitalia, or the ridiculing of deluded contestants on ‘talent’ shows, are like people who exist entirely on a diet of cheap processed food. If you only watch programmes pandering to the warped egos of monomaniac businessmen, mentalist chefs, and patronising ‘experts’ in such relatively straightforward activities as buying a house, dressing and not being grossly overweight, you will enfeeble your mind. ‘Documentaries’ about physically deformed people which purport to be sympathetic but actually have the same moral intent as a chamber of horrors, or callously exploitative chat shows in which damaged and vulnerable people are paraded in front of a baying audience of complacent fools, will sicken your heart. The obsessions and fears of the popular print media project an equally depressing and limited image of humanity: celebrity, crime, foreigners, terrorists, football, diets, property prices, tax, teenagers, ASBOs, dangerous dogs, ‘political correctness gone mad’. In his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell imagined a mass media used by an all-powerful state as a control mechanism: a machine to distort, lie and re-write history in the interests of the ruling party. One important element of state control was the production of ‘Prolefeed’, populist entertainment designed to placate and stupefy the ‘Proletariat’ (ordinary folk). Prolefeed consisted of “rubbishy newspapers containing almost nothing except sport, crime and astrology, sensational five-cent novelettes, films oozing with sex, and sentimental songs which were composed entirely by mechanical means on a special kind of kaleidoscope known as a versificator.” Although the novel was published in 1949, Orwell’s description of Prolefeed seems to resonate in our times. Think about the hysterical idiocy of much of the British tabloid press; think about the manufactured inanities of the popular music industry. Many of us have become passive consumers of Prolefeed, prey to the desires of advertisers, immune to complexity and nuance.
But no one has to limit themselves to this impoverished mental diet. There is a different world of media out there. Radio, television and newspapers at their best can be an extraordinary source of enlightenment and inspiration. But without the necessary ‘cultural capital’ it can be difficult to access, even though it’s all freely available to anyone with a TV, radio or internet connection. This webpage has a simple task: to provide links to some of the best outputs of the contemporary British mass media.