Culture is one of the most complex concepts in the social sciences, including policy studies. Its uses range from an understanding of culture as a system of meaning and identity to culture as art and creative expression. Numerous sociological, anthropological, economic and political science approaches address culture, either as an explanatory concept or as a phenomenon that needs explaining. We will briefly review these, but quickly shift to policy. By this we mean the frameworks, objectives, ways and means by which culture becomes part of governmental and non-governmental programmes and projects.
There is, for example, the use of culture in international relations, as exemplified in the distinctions between soft, sharp and hard power or the concept and practice of cultural diplomacy. There is frequent reference to culture in scenarios evoking a clash of civilisations, identity politics, social conflicts and international tensions. Sociologists also refer to one aspect of culture, namely cultural capital, as an important dimension of social inequality and how societies are stratified. Strikingly different is the use of culture in local and regional contexts as exemplified by a deepening intersection with the economy, whereby culture becomes an instrument of economic development and urban revitalisation, encapsulated in terms like the creative class, creative cities and the cultural economy.
In reviewing cultural policies at the international, national and local level, and looking at a series of case studies, the course uses a variety of instructional formats, e.g., lectures, seminar-type discussions, guest lectures, in-class exercises and student presentations.
This course is for 2nd year MIA and MPP students only.