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The Justification of a Music City: Handbooks, intermediaries and value disputes in a global policy assemblage

Bennett, T. ORCID: 0000-0003-0078-9315 (2020). The Justification of a Music City: Handbooks, intermediaries and value disputes in a global policy assemblage. City, Culture and Society, 22, article number 100354. doi: 10.1016/j.ccs.2020.100354


The intermediary work of persuasion and justification is an important but often hidden aspect of urban cultural policy. Rather than the frictionless flow and ‘transfer’ of knowledge, the global assemblage of creative economy policy – especially novel, oppositional or more ‘just’ visions of creative cities – is an accomplishment. One such vision is the call to develop a hybrid cultural-industrial policy that would attend to the internal processes and dynamics of culture as a production system. Drawing from the pragmatic sociology of justification and critique, the paper focuses on the ‘Music City’ construct as a live example of this vision, and the best-practice ‘handbook’ as key justification device. Handbooks are used by intermediaries to spread ideas, signal expertise, convince and ‘educate’ those that might fund them, coordinate heterogeneous stakeholders, and to enthuse and achieve legitimacy among a broader public. In so doing, they present a repertoire of arguments, rooted in competing value formations, that respond to doubts and disputes with potentials for compromise and appeals to a ‘common good’. Analysing the justificatory ‘grammar’ of a new Music City discourse suggests avenues for further research exploring how justification work takes place in situated contexts of urban cultural practice

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2020. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: Music City, Music industry, Consultancy, Boltanski, Sociology of Justification, Policy Mobility
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
M Music and Books on Music
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
SWORD Depositor:
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