With the growing popularity of cultural studies as a degree discipline, sociologists have, in recent times, looked to the two notions of 'culture' and 'civilisation' as forming the base for any analysis of Western society. This reader brings together key published essays from some of the most renowned thinkers from the mid-eighteenth century to the mid-twentieth. Renowned figures such as Sigmund Freud, Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche are represented, as well as lesser known philosophers such as Alfred Weber and Marcel Mauss. In this wide ranging and comprehensive survey of cultural and sociological thought, chapters such as Thomas Jefferson's 'Notes on the State of Virginia' (1781) to Nietzsche's 'The Genealogy of Morals', the notion of culture as a critique of modernity and the ideas centred around 'post-modernity' is analysed with concepts now broadly in use, shown to have been issues at the heart of much of these writings. A consideration of them, such as this reader provides, is thus vital, not only for a true understanding of our recent history, but also for a picture of our own culture and society.