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In this text, Adam Kuper pursues the concept of culture from the early 20th-century debates about its adoption by American social science under the tutelage of Talcott Parsons. What follows is the story of how the idea fared within American anthropology, the discipline that took on culture as its special subject. Here the reader sees the influence of such figures as Clifford Geertz, David Schneider, Marshall Sahlins, and their successors, who represent the mainstream of American cultural anthropology in the second half of the 20th century. These anthorpologists put the idea of culture to the ultimate test - in detailed, empirical ethgraphic studies - and Kuper's account shows how the results raise more questions than they answer about the possibilities and validity of cultural analysis.