Cultural Policies in Europe.From a State to a City-Centered Perspective on Cultural Generativity
Cultural policy in Europe is deeply rooted in the Welfare State doctrine that has been prevailing during the last half century. Its implementation has gone along with the invention and rise of educational policy, social policy and health policy. This paper sketches its evolution as a four phase move towards what has been emerging as the central dual content of the current public cultural policy: preserving and promoting heritage, and bringing the creative industries at the core of the so-called knowledge society. The general evolutionary trend shows four distinct phases: 1) the creation of a systematic cultural supply policy based on a limited definition of culture suitable for public financing and based on a vertical concept of democratization by conversion; 2) the gradual decentralization of public action, which leads to an increasing disparity in its aims and functions, and which challenges the initial universalist, top-down egalitarian model; 3) a revision of the legitimate scope of public action, which declares symbolically obsolete the founding hierarchy of cultural politics, that which would oppose high culture, protected from market forces and entertainment culture and governed by the laws of the industrial economy; 4) an increasing tendency to justify cultural policy on the basis of its contribution to economic growth and to the balance of national social diversity, which legitimises the regulatory power of public action as well encouraging the expansion of the creative industries and the demands for the evaluation of procedures and results. The last section of this paper moves away from the state centered perspective and focuses on the city as the incubator of cultural generativity, in order to suggest how a city-centered approach to cultural development challenges the state-centered doctrine of cultural policy.
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