The ‘cultural turn’ has a profound influence across the humanities and social sciences in recent years. In calling into question the universalist basis on which so many conventional methodological and normative assumptions have been based, the cultural turn has focused on the extent to which specificity and particularity underpin what we can know, how we can know it and how this affects our being-in-the-world. This has opened the way to a range of insights, from issues of pluralism and difference, both within political communities and between them, to the instability if not impossibility of foundations for knowledge. Too few studies embracing this ‘cultural turn’, however, pay more than cursory attention to the culture concept itself. This paper suggests that conceptions of culture derived mainly from the discipline of anthropology dominate in political studies while humanist conceptions have been largely ignored or rejected. The paper further argues that it is time to reconsider what humanist ideas have to contribute to how ‘culture’ is both conceptualized and deployed in political thought and action, especially to the extent that these might contribute to countering the overparticularization of social and political phenomena that marks contemporary culturalist approaches.