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11.00  Policy Institutions and Policy Agents as Makers of Cultural Heritage

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11:00, Samedi 4 Juin 2016 (30 minutes)

This paper will depart from the idea that the making of cultural policy, and heritage policy included, takes place within a political system and in the interaction between the political system and external agents like heritage institutions (libraries, museums, archives), civil/voluntary organizations, business entrepreneurs, professional groups (for example curators and pedagogues) but even amateur idealists. Policy making can be defined as an independent variable that has impacts on heritage construction and heritage practices. I will focus on the policy aspect of heritage making and assume that heritage policy making takes place between political, cultural and professional institutions. In this process power interests are also at stake. The principal research questions of this paper will be: How is heritage policy constructed in the interplay between democratic political institutions and agents representing heritage as a field of practice? Who are the principal agents and what kinds of interests do they represent? To answer these questions I will present a theoretical approach where I describe and discuss the institutional implications of the heritage policy making process. My approach is mostly inspired by political sociology and political science, and I consider this paper to be a theoretical contribution to the construction of knowledge about heritage making as a specific part of cultural policy making. 

The paper will consist of two parts. The first part will be a presentation and a brief overview of institutions and types of agents who are constructors of heritage and heritage policies, based on analyses of Nordic political models, but they may also be relevant for international studies. The second part will deal with specific theories, concepts and approaches that are relevant for critical analysis of the making of heritage policies.

The knowledge contribution of this paper and my future empirical research in this field will primarily deal with the role that agents of political systems and cultural institutions play in the construction of and the practices of cultural heritage. And this raises several democratic questions: Do government heritage policies promote cultural citizenship? Does heritage policy contribute to identity building and representation for all citizens? Does it promote participation for everybody and on which premises? Does it offer every citizen knowledge and opportunities to make cultural citizenship a real democratic right? These are all big questions that call for future research. Much research has been done about cultural heritage as a field of practice and its theoretical implications, but very little research focus on the interface between heritage making and the making of heritage policy as part of cultural policy in general.

Geir Vestheim


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