Themes: Our Creativy Diversity
A new global ethics
A commitment to pluralism
Challenges of a media-rich world
recasting cultural policies

Bennett & Mercer
Improving Research and International Cooperation for Cultural Policy

In the preparation of this paper we have been attentive to the needs, identified in Our Creative Diversity and elsewhere, for new agendas and for a coherent new paradigm for research in the field of cultural policy recognising, among other issues:

  • the relative infancy of conceptual and empirical work on cultural indicators;
  • the need for more integrated and strategic work on interdependent factors in cultural and related fields; and,
  • the need for interdisciplinary, historically attuned and comparative approaches to cultural research at intersectoral and interagency level.

We have identified ten sets of issues which need to be addressed in developing new agendas, strategies and mechanisms for research in, of and for cultural policy as follows:

  • The relative immaturity of cultural policy as an interdisciplinary area of study and research.
  • The related lack of conceptual clarity in the field of cultural policy.
  • The low priority accorded to research funding by established cultural policy agencies.
  • The problematic sensitivity of some cultural policy areas leading to overly political decision-making.
  • The private and privatised nature of much research in the cultural sector.
  • The lack of research by the crucial agency of local government in cultural policy and development.
  • The lack of resources for systematic research by the agencies of civil society such as NGOs.
  • The weak linkages between the universities and broader cultural sectors in the development and resourcing of research agendas.
  • The national focus of much cultural policy research.
  • Inequalities in the international distribution of research capacities

In responding to these sets of issues and questions we argue that policy is not the unified output of a single domain or jurisdiction but that there are four broad sets of policy-generating domains to be taken into account in new research agendas. These are:

  • The policies of governments from national to local levels.
  • The policies of cultural institutions
  • The policies of the institutions of civil society
  • Policies relating to the field of participation and consumption

To develop a coherent approach to both the issues identified and to the reality of the different domains of cultural policy research we identify four priority research agendas under the following broad headings:

  • Access to cultural resources
  • Citizenship and public culture
  • Legal/cultural interfaces
  • Culture and community development

To address these strategic agendas we propose that as well as improving the content of research, there is an urgent need to find mechanisms and a sufficiently common conceptual language to enhance the opportunities for establishing new research relations in interdisciplinary, interagency and cross-sectoral terms. To this end we propose the development, as broad and 'umbrella' categories for research, of:

  • Strategic and Integrated Research Agendas targeted at;
  • Cultural mapping, and
  • Cultural industry intelligence

The latter are seen as research catalysts bringing together the diverse interests and stakeholders of the cultural field.

In conclusion we propose two core principles and four strategies for research development as follows:


Principle 1

Research in, of, and for cultural policy must acknowledge, respect and integrate into its heuristic and analytical frameworks the facts of diversity of cultural resources, the range of forms of participation in the cultural field, from production to consumption, and the forms of articulation of the cultural field with social, economic, environmental and ethical policy domains.


Principle 2

The development of research objectives, programs and methods in the cultural field should, where practicable, be interdisciplinary, cross-sectoral and cross-agency and involve the widest range of stakeholders for the identified objective(s).

To address these core principles and the action agenda indicated here - and to avoid a 'wish list' - we suggest the following broad strategies.


Strategy 1

Recognising the priority need for greatly enhanced and policy-relevant research in the cultural field, UNESCO should encourage, through advocacy, policy development and joint funding arrangements, an interdisciplinary, cross-sectoral and interagency approach through mechanisms such as:

  • enhanced communications and collaboration between national commissions and peak national agencies and bodies in governmental, industry and community sectors;
  • research programs and funding targeted at the university sector but dependent upon cross-sectoral collaboration and partnership funding; and,
  • resources and support for the development of bona fide cultural research networks.


Strategy 2

Recognising the immature and often contingent nature of research in the field of cultural policy and development, UNESCO, through the framework of the United Nations, should investigate the possibilities of establishing a co-ordinating entity which would operate in a similar way to, for example, the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD). This could take the form of recognition and resourcing of a range of regional entities, operating in cross-sectoral and interagency mode, making up a global research institution with an agreed international program rather than a single centralised body. Such an entity would have the functions of:

  • identifying international, regional and national priorities in cultural research objectives and methodologies;
  • undertaking collaborative programs specific to their nations, regions or to the global community; and,
  • auspicing rolling fora and other meetings of both regional and global significance.


Strategy 3

UNESCO should establish collaborative research programs with other peak international bodies such as the OECD and The World Bank in areas of clear and productive overlap of interests and strategic concern such as:

  • culture and the new information and communications technologies and industries;
  • cultural well-being as a quality of life indicator;
  • culture and citizenship;
  • intellectual property law; and
  • new urban and regional priority agendas

"Recasting cultural policies"
Jean Barthélemy
Bennett & Mercer
Néstor García Canclini
Cliche, Mitchell & Wiesand
Jérôme Huet
Britt Isaksson
Lofti Maherzi
Sally Jane Norman
Michiro Watanabe
pijltje.gif (895 bytes) A new globlal ethics
pijltje.gif (895 bytes) A commitment to pluralism
pijltje.gif (895 bytes) Challenges of a media-rich world
pijltje.gif (895 bytes) Recasting cultural policies
General introduction
recasting cultural policies