Criticism

Criticism is the practice of judging the merits and faults of something.

Crítica, engraving by Julio Ruelas, ca. 1907

Criticism is an evaluative or corrective exercise that can occur in any area of human life. Criticism can therefore take many different forms (see below). How people go about criticizing can vary a great deal. In specific areas of human endeavour, the form of criticism can be highly specialized and technical; it often requires professional knowledge to appreciate the criticism. For subject-specific information, see the Varieties of criticism page.

To criticize does not necessarily imply "to find fault", but the word is often taken to mean the simple expression of an object against prejudice, no matter positive or negative. Often criticism involves active disagreement, but it may only mean "taking sides". Constructive criticism will often involve an exploration of the different sides of an issue.

Criticism is often presented as something unpleasant, but there are friendly criticisms, amicably discussed, and some people find great pleasure in criticism ("keeping people sharp", "providing the critical edge"). The Pulitzer Prize for Criticism has been presented since 1970 to a newspaper writer who has demonstrated 'distinguished criticism'.

When criticism involves a dialogue of some kind, direct or indirect, it is an intrinsically social activity.

Criticism is also the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature, artwork, film, and social trends (see the article links below). The goal is to understand the possible meanings of cultural phenomena, and the context in which they take shape. In so doing, it is often evaluated how cultural productions relate to other cultural productions, and what their place is within a particular genre, or a particular cultural tradition.