Jim McGuigan

[Loughborough university, Leicestershire, UK]

(in sessions: Culture under Pressure, 20 Jan, 17.00 – 18.30 and A Comparative View: Cultural Institutions In Post-Yugoslav Transformations 21 Jan, 15.45 – 17.30)

The Cultural Public Sphere Contra Economistic Cultural Policy

(lecture in Culture under Pressure, 20 Jan, 17.00 – 18.30)

The concept of a cultural public sphere refers to affective (aesthetic and emotional) aspects of public communications. With regard to cultural policy, the perspective of a cultural public sphere departs from older notions of intrinsic value and also differs from prevailing forms of instrumentalism. Most importantly, the cultural public sphere perspective is a critical alternative to neoliberal cultural policy and the dominant albeit implausible economic rationalisation that is given typically for public intervention in the cultural field today. Neoliberalism is not only reductionist in an economic sense, it is also reductionist in a cultural sense. In effect, too much is claimed for culture as a device that brings about economic development. Research on public festivals as leverage for urban regeneration in de-industrialised cities tends to confirm the fallacies of neoliberal cultural policy.


Jim McGuigan BSc, MPhil, PGCE, PhD is Professor of Cultural Analysis in the Department of Social Sciences at Loughborough. Before entering academia he worked as a research of officer at the Arts Council of GB and as a script editor in BBC TV’s Drama (Plays) Department. His books include Writers and the Arts Council (1981), Cultural Populism (1992), Culture and the Public Sphere (1996), Cultural Methodologies (1997), Modernity and Postmodern Culture (1999 & 2006), Rethinking Cultural Policy (2004), Cool Capitalism (2009) and Cultural Analysis (2010). He has published in several journals, including Cultural Studies, European Journal of Cultural Studies, International Journal of Cultural Policy, New Left Review, Social Semiotics, Sociological Review and Sociology; and contributed chapters to various book collections in the arts, humanities and social sciences. His work has been translated into Chinese, Farsi, German, Korean, Japanese and Spanish, He researched the New Millennium Experience for the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Jim serves on several editorial boards and has served as a reviewer and expert research evaluator for the AHRC, the ESRC and the European Commission. He has been a visiting professor at a number of universities abroad, including Bergen, Canberra, Jyvaskyla and Rostock.

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