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Conceptualising cultural governance under new Labour's social value agenda: the practices and experiences of contemporary visual arts institutions on London (1997-2010)

Bonham-Carter, C. (2019). Conceptualising cultural governance under new Labour's social value agenda: the practices and experiences of contemporary visual arts institutions on London (1997-2010). (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)

Abstract

The thesis addresses the extent to which the normative conceptualisation of cultural policy under New Labour’s social value agenda provides an adequate framework to understand the practices and experiences of contemporary visual arts institutions in London, in the period 1997-2010. By substantiating the discursive community of contemporary art and approaching the study of governance through the lens of cultural policy and contemporary art theory, the thesis establishes that in the dominant critical position, the interpretation of governmentality that is applied to the analysis of cultural policy is largely structural. The thesis identifies a gap in the literature taking account of the perspective and role of the skilled cultural actor in governance and capturing the nuance and variety of experiences across sectors and institutions.

Using three substantive case studies, the thesis sets out to provide a focused and in-depth understanding of the contemporary visual arts institution’s experience of governance under New Labour’s social value agenda. It uses a combination of research methods, including policy review, quantitative data analysis and interviews with skilled cultural actors. Findings about informal, micro-level processes, behaviours and attitudes within the institution show that the meaning of social value as a governing principle was a highly situated concept, constructed through the input of multiple discourses. The findings show that there were tensions to resolve at the interface of practice and policy that had been previously overlooked by researchers, and skilled cultural actors played an important, agentic role in decision making, meaning-making and governance. The findings further demonstrate that the experience of governance under New Labour’s social value agenda was more nuanced and varied than is visible in most normative critiques.

The thesis’ findings support the use of governmentality as an analytic lens for reading cultural policy under New Labour, but with caveats. The findings demonstrate the need for cultural policy studies to understand more about the critical debates informing practice, and to pay more attention to the life of policy as it moves beyond rhetoric. The thesis’ approach shows the benefit of drawing a specific disciplinary perspective into the analytic framework.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Arts & Social Sciences
Date Deposited: 24 Aug 2020 15:18
URI: https://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/24810
[img] Text - Accepted Version
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