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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Social Sciences eTheses
Title: Which Cultural Policy? Whose Cultural Policy? Players and Practices in a Scottish Context
Author(s): McConnell, Bridget
Supervisor(s): Allan, Julie
Keywords: Cultural Policy
Issue Date: Mar-2009
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This research is concerned with how cultural policy is made in contemporary Scotland. Focussed on deciphering and understanding the actions, behaviours, meanings and performances of those involved in cultural policy making and how a cultural policy community is created and maintained, a qualitative research approach was adopted. As such, the research is based on semi-structured interviews with fifteen key players from the cultural policy community The influence and application of a range of theoretical perspectives shaped my data analysis and research outcomes in significant ways, leading me away from an initial positivist approach - where I had hoped for a ‘cultural policy making toolkit’ to emerge from the data - to a more nuanced understanding of the complex and unpredictable dynamics at play in cultural policy making. In particular, writings broadly defined as within the postmodern camp - namely those of Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze and Guattari - provided the possibility of new paradigms for the discussion and understanding of cultural policy making, leading me to unexpected insights into cultural policy making processes. Key findings relate to the characters and their performances within the cultural policy community as well as the spaces where cultural policy is created. Firstly, the significance and impact of key players emerged as having less to do with their perceived status, influence or professional positions, than their ability to construct a ‘cultural policy’ identity, attune themselves to, engage with and affect an ever changing and fluid policy environment. Paradoxically, the data revealed that those who appeared at first sight to be the most powerful and influential often emerged as the least so. Notably, the most effective players seemed to be those who invested in their sense of self and social identities and roles, clearly articulated values, principles and beliefs, bringing an authenticity to their performances in the cultural policy sphere. In addition these players demonstrated an almost intuitive understanding of the power of myth and storytelling in the construction of cultural policy. Similarly, the most significant cultural policy spaces were not where I had thought them to be - for example, public agency boards and political committees - but rather in the more amorphous spaces of gossip, ‘off-the-record’ comments, newspaper commentary and opinions, networks and the assumed meanings in both the said and unsaid. My data also reveal an active engagement in the ‘public domain’ by the cultural policy community, a space that is constructed and defined by meanings, signs and values - the substance and language of cultural policy. Finally, it is the performances of actors in the cultural policy spaces that bring cultural policy into being. The data disclose the power of speaking and writing in shifting and disrupting perceptions, views and interpretations, and in creating different spaces of encounter and creativity, leading to new understandings and unintended cultural policy directions. Indeed, my data suggest that it is more often than not the accidental happenings, productive outcomes of inadvertent actions, incubation of ideas and serendipity, that lead to the most effective and affective cultural policy outcomes - rather than the formulaic and process driven approaches required of local and national government and its agencies in the name of public accountability. The main implications of my research and recommendations for future action include: the desirability of wider dissemination of cultural policy research to practitioners, and an increase in practitioner-led research; recognition of the diversity and potential of atypical and informal cultural policy spaces; and the need for professional development opportunities and programmes to take cognisance of the latent resource inherent in practitioners who, with some encouragement, confidence-boosting and on occasion guidance in developing themselves as ‘readers’ of cultural policy discourse, could contribute to a more active and engaged cultural policy community.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Education

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