The global spread of the concept of cultural policy
Alasuutari, Pertti; Kangas, Anita (2020). The global spread of the concept of cultural policy. Poetics, 82, 101445. DOI: 10.1016/j.poetic.2020.101445
© 2020 the Authors
The article studies UNESCO's program that, from the late 1960s onward, aimed at spreading globally the concept of cultural policy. An essential part of the program, UNESCO invited member states from different regions of the world to prepare reports on national cultural policy. That was successful in spreading cultural policy as a concept and as a governmental structure. Except for only Australia, Canada and the United States, in which cultural policy is handled at a sub-state level, all countries that produced a national report have established a ministry of culture, typically synchronously with the report. The analysis suggests that UNESCO's success was due to two factors: the process of domestication and peer pressure. This means that, for one thing, the UNESCO materials stressed differences rather than similarities, and therefore the program was not seen as a threat to national sovereignty. Rather than mentioning the program's contribution to structural isomorphism, the documents stressed that developing and reporting on a national cultural policy are means to support and promote national art and cultural heritage. Secondly, diffusion of the concept of cultural policy benefitted from international comparisons enabled by the national reports and the tendency of countries to emulate others, especially those belonging to the same reference group. These two factors were results of strategic planning on UNESCO's part. Experienced in seeking to guide national policies, the UNESCO staff members could anticipate the challenges that the program could face and the processes that different moves could trigger. ...