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In Media, Culture & Society, Vol. 22, No. 6, 763-785 (2000)


This article examines the role played by broadcasting in Irish artistic and cultural life from independence in 1922 to 1960 with the onset of formal modernization. It examines the cultural context for the arts in early independent Ireland in which a mood of ambivalence and sometimes outright hostility to high culture prevailed. Rather than a profound disjunction between pre- and post-modernizing phases of Irish history, however, this article argues that there were important lines of continuity in cultural experience, in particular middle-class experience of the arts, which continue to inform Irish cultural life up to the present. Such cultural experience may be characterized by its pervasive middlebrow sensibility which, starved of the traditional institutional supports for culture, made up in amateur enthusiasm what was missing in cultural capital. Broadcasting, in fact, was the key institution in the middlebrow process of cultural development in pre-1960s Ireland which along with the developing arts policy of the time can be seen to give a different complexion to a period in Irish history better known for its cultural impoverishment and repressive nature.



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