Cultural Policy

Topics: Culture, Sociology, High culture Pages: 11 (3658 words) Published: December 13, 2012
What Does Cultural Policy Involve?


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Cultural policy is almost invariably interconnected to all fundamental issues in today’s society, such as economic stratification, education, technology, race relationships, international relations, and community development. Indeed, cultural policy is apparent in various instances extending from an ordinary family’s dining table to the corporate boardrooms of national and global conglomerates and public organizations. For instance, cultural policy is manifested in the decision by a family to educate their children in the language, customs, and history of a certain ethnic group; in the benchmarks for quality and excellence adopted by a grant maker; in the choice to concentrate on promotion of cultural tourism or historic preservation by community development organization; or simply in the amalgamation of electronic and print media and other digital media (Atlas 2002). Essentially, cultural policy is regarded as both an outcome and a method, or background for crafting guidelines and decisions that is cognizant and guided by existing social links and values. This paper presents a theoretical understanding of cultural policy and what it entails with regard to the development of policies that are cognizant of the vital link between culture, art, heritage and ordinary individual lives. What is cultural policy?

In order to develop a clear understanding of cultural policy it is essential to tritely deconstruct the phrase 'cultural policy' into its two consisting and distinctive concepts that are 'culture' and 'policy'. Extensive literature reveals that the two concepts are individually abstract and disputable, therefore making the definition of the adjoined term particularly difficult. However, in the realm of cultural policy there is at least one inferred agreement; that when individuals refer to cultural policy, they are referring to policies focused on culture, not culture focused on policy. Defining ‘culture’

'Culture' denotes for various things to various individuals, societies, populations and nations. Accordingly, it is common for different individuals or agencies to use varying definitions of culture as prescribed or determined by the varying contexts or settings. Relatedly, there are hundreds of explanations of culture that emphasize diverse viewpoints. For instance, Scott Lash describes culture as a collection of symbolic practices (Lash 2002), while Talcott Parsons perceives culture as a dominant normative structure of symbolic edifices containing cognitive, aesthetic, moral and religious values (Koivunen & Marsio 2007). Essentially, Parsons offers a practical concept of culture that emphasizes the sustaining and assimilative function of culture. However, Parson’s theory has a significant weakness since it portrays an idea of perpetual, linear advancement of culture, while overlooking the phenomenon of cultural conflicts (Koivunen & Marsio 2007). In the case of cultural studies there seems to be two mutual bases for defining culture rather than one, where the first is derived from Williams (1961, pp. 41-71), and the second developed from numerous structuralist and post-structuralist concerns with semiotic representative practices. Though, in practice the two definitions have become so entwined to actually meaningful distinguish between the two. A review of books on cultural studies shows a proclivity for the Williams definition as a foundation for understanding ‘culture’ (Milner & Browitt 2002, pp. 2-5) (Lewis & Miller 2003, pp. 2-3). In this definition ‘culture’ assumes distinctive forms including as a form of Spiritual ideal in regard to values; as a chronicled experience; and as ‘a way of living’ (Baetens 2005). Other literature in cultural studies offer alternative views based on the semiotic...
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