Modern culture Essay.
As has lately been pointed out (Hesmondhalgh, 2002; Negus, 2002) this term has been used with some quite differing meanings or at least deviating from Bourdieu’s original intentions (Bourdieu, 1986). If they can be seen as active and cognizant agents of social and cultural change – change in the supposed interests of themselves and the class fraction to which they go, as Bourdieu would have it – then they have been recognized with cultural critics (Bourdieu, 1986; Hesmondhalgh, 2002); those promoting a new lifestyle (O’Connor and Wynne, 1998); and those who choose which products go forward during the cultural production chain.
It has also been used to portray those who “make things happen,” putting artists, money and audiences together in a means that creates new cultural possibilities. This might comprise Diaghilev, or Brian Epstein, or Charles Saatchi. At a more ordinary level it can be used to portray those who are able to translate between the language of policy makers and that of the cultural producers.
As with the A+R men (music industry talent scouts: Artists and Repertoire) in Negus’ description these intermediaries work to bond one level of discourse to another – to “symbolize” the interests of cultural producers within the framework of wider policy development, and speak this language back to those producers.
By the time Tony Blair’s New Labour came to power in 1997 in the U. K.
the cultural industries had a well-built policy presence – it was here that consultants and policy makers had interpreted academic literature and practical illustrations into coherent policy possibilities. The narrative context for this was boosted by New Labor’s legitimizing of the cultural industries – and the term “creative” acceptable an argument about a benign combination of culture and economics to be placed at the level of personal potential and aspiration.
Those in the sector could now distinguish themselves and others as “creatives” (Caves, 2000; Florida, 2002). At the same time the cultural industries also became a U. K. policy export, with consultants – and now academics – being asked by many European cities to advice on culture as a motor of economic development. Though, the interaction of these policy intermediaries with extremely different contexts destined that the work of definition had to be done over, and as such the narratives spelled out more evidently.
Often this was not easy as the cultural (and by now “creative”) industry discourse was linked with Blair’s “Third Way,” or with some Anglo-U. S. assault on a European cultural policy consent. Certainly it was quite clear that a shift in discourse would challenge recognized policy consensus. The terminology itself brought fresh problems; whereas the U. K. can use “industry” almost interchangeably with “economic sector,” elsewhere it evokes factory production (O’Connor, 2000b).
Cultural enterprise or cultural business frequently had to supplement the main term. In fact “cultural industries” became greatly an imported neologism, given in the English original and then explained (O’Connor, 1999a). How the term and the arguments are used and reconfigured depends on the local context. But if it was usually seen as an argument concerning a new relationship between culture and economics, how this relationship was understood could be extremely different, as could too the outcomes envisioned and the groups who picked up the ideas.
Policy makers used it to drive diverse agendas – job creation, urban regeneration, the commercialization of subsidized culture, emerging new media industries, creating employment, retaining talent, etc. But cultural producers also reacted in different ways – some seeing it as a new set of opportunities, others as the thin end of a precarious wedge. “The perceptions that the creative industries are open to talent, and are indeed dependent on diverse talent, have also been somewhat optimistic” .
It must be clear then that in working to construct a new policy object, and in efforting to shift discourses around culture towards economics – with the provision that economics too is moving towards culture, the cultural industries discourse rallies a narrative to strengthen its policy goals. These narratives become more obvious when the discourse enters a new framework – it has to justify itself and make its arguments obvious not simply as technical policy tools but as concerned with the primary direction and meaning of modern culture.