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ICCPR 2012, Barcelona, 9-12th of July 2012
Reclaiming ‘value’
from the econocrats:
Reflections on the cultural
value debate
Dr Eleonora Belfiore
Centre for Cultural Policy Studies
University of Warwick, UK
[email protected]
@elebelfiore on twitter & #culturalvalue
So, where is the paper, then?
 No fully formed ‘paper’ as such… rather:
 A manifesto for a renewed research approach to
‘cultural value’
 A call for a rediscovery of the political and of an
emancipatory agenda in cultural policy research
 A call to arms: I can’t do this on my own: join me!
 At least, please talk to me!
[email protected]
@elebelfiore
#culturalvalue
Why cultural value?
 A topical issue that is here to stay – possibly the
defining cultural policy debates for the years to come
 From a research perspective, allows agenda to move
beyond the obsession with technical problems (e.g.
toolkit mania)
 A way out of the unhelpful instrumental/intrinsic value
dichotomy?
 A way to re-inject cultural politics into cultural policy
research (cultural authority)
 Towards an emancipatory cultural policy research
agenda?
Reclaiming value from the
hegemony of economics…
 An epistemological problem:
 ‘a modern form of “economic imperialism” in the
realm of the intellect’ (Rothbard 1989)
 It foments the current ‘measurement fetishism’
 An important moral and political dimension
that has been so far overlooked (the moral limits
of markets & the shift from a market economy to a
market society – e.g. Michael Sandel)
 Why research this? What is the point of cultural
policy research? What should we aim for beyond
critique?
Cultural value & the
neoliberal ‘monoculture’
‘In these early decades of the twenty-first century,
the master story is economic; economic beliefs,
values and assumptions are shaping how we feel,
think, and act. The beliefs, values and assumptions
that make up the economic story aren’t inherently
right or wrong; they’re just a single perspective on
the nature of reality. In a monoculture though, that
single perspective becomes so engrained as the
only reasonable reality that we begin to forget our
other stories, and fail to see the monoculture in its
totality, never mind question it’
(Michaels, F. S. 2011, p. 9)
The challenge:
Bourdieu (1998) neo-liberalism = an ‘uncrossable horizon
of thought’ = all-pervading form of economic fatalism,
which is ‘becoming a sort of universal belief, a new
ecumenical gospel’.
When market logic is transformed into “a universal
common sense” (Bourdieu & Wacquant 2001), is there any
space in public policy for values beyond economic value?
The call to arms: we need to reclaim the value debate
from the ‘econocrats’ who operate on the basis of ‘the
belief that there exist fundamental economic tests or
yardsticks according to which policy decisions can and
should be made’ (Self 1975, 5).
George Lakoff’s (2004) frame
theory
 Approach developed within cognitive science:
‘Frames are mental structures that shape the way we see the
world. As a result, they shape the goals we seek, the plans we
make, the way we act, and what counts as good or bad outcome of
our actions. In politics our frames shape our social policies and the
institutions we form to carry out policies. To change our frames is
to change all of this. Reframing is social change’.
 Frames are part of the ‘cognitive unconscious’
‘Reframing is changing the way the public sees the world.
It is changing what counts as common sense. Because
language activates frames, new language is required for
new frames. Thinking differently requires speaking
differently’.
The econocratic frame in
action:
The Treasury frames, the cultural sector had
better comply!!
From O’Brien (2010, 4) Measuring the value of culture:
[…] in recent years there has been recognition, both within
central government and in parts of the publically funded
cultural sector, of the need to more clearly articulate the
value of culture using methods which fit in with central
government’s decision-making. Thus the cultural sector
will need to use tools and concepts of economics to fully
state their benefits in the prevailing language of policy
appraisal and evaluation (emphasis added).
The de-politicization of the
value debate
Cost-benefit analysis a way to bypass the problem
of the articulation of the values and ideologies at the
root of policies
 Political questions (making the case for the arts)
are reformulated as technical problems (e.g. focus on
problems of impact assessment or cost-benefit
calculations)
 The cult of the measurement as a strategy of
legitimation
A
sector that is more comfortable with talking about
‘value for money’ than money for values
The long reach of economism
A 1980s revival:
Economic impact is back in fashion:
 “Cultural Capital: A Manifesto for the
Future” for the You can Bank on Culture
campaign - March 2010
Blurb below title: “Investing in Culture
Will build Britain’s Social and Economic
Recovery”
 David Shrigley’s vide o for the Save the Arts
Campaing
http://www.lost-arts.org/
The economic framing
constrains…
Cultural value in an artist’s own words…
Wolfang Tillmans’ answer when asked in 2010
“What’s the best argument you can put forward for
not cutting the arts?:
“It makes sense on an economic level. Britain
doesn’t have much to export but the creative
industries are a huge export industry. I don’t want
to sound too economical but that is the only
language this government seems to understand”.
Towards developing a richer
cultural value frame
‘Do not use their language. Their language picks up a
frame – and it won’t be the frame you want’ (Lakoff, 2004)
A SERIOUS DISCUSSION OF ‘VALUE’ IN ECONOMICS
VALUE IN PHILOSOPHY (PHILOSOPHY OF VALUE)
RELIGION/SPIRITUALITY, THEOLOGY
SOCIOLOGY: SOCIOLOGY OF VALUES (BOTH IN THE SENSE OF
HOW VALUES OPERATE IN SOCIETY BUT ALSO IN TERMS OF
THE RECENT (RE)DESCOVERY OF THE NORMATIVE)
AESTHETICS (AESTHETIC VALUES; INTRINSIC/EXTRINSIC
PUBLIC VALUE THEORY
Reframing ‘cultural value’ as a
progressive, transformative project
Envisioning ‘real utopias’ through cultural policy?
Real utopias = ‘utopian ideas that are grounded in the real
potentials of humanity, utopian destination that have accessible
waystations, utopian designs of institutions that can inform our
practical tasks of navigating a world of imperfect conditions for
social change’ (Wright 2010).
3 steps:
 elaborating a systematic diagnosis and critique of the
world as it exists
envisioning viable alternatives
understanding the obstacles, possibilities, and dilemmas of
transformation
Towards reframing cultural
value:
 Definitional matters: cultural value? Cultural
values? Value of culture? Is it just semantics?
 Dethroning economics: an interdisciplinary/postdisciplinary & reflexive approach
 An inclusive research agenda: Reaching beyond
academia/ a collaborative agenda? A broadening of
perspectives
 An engaged agenda:
 Aim for ‘experiments that break with the dominant
vision of the world’ and which work on ‘ the critique of
and resistance to the neoliberal doxa’ (Bourdieu 2003)
 Cultural value debate as a contribution to an
‘emancipatory social science’