Skip to main content

Implicit Cultural Policy

The idea of ‘implicit’ cultural policy was first introduced by Jeremy Ahearne in a paper published by this Centre in 2004. In contrast to policies explicitly labelled cultural, such as those pursued by ministries of culture around the world, 'implicit' cultural policy refers to those manifestly more powerful forms of institutional action that are intended to shape cultures, but which are not expressly described as such. Cultures here are defined as systems or clusters of habitual attitudes and values. A diverse range of agents are involved in these culture-shaping activities, which can include corporations, educational institutions and religious organisations as well as political parties and departments of government. From this perspective, cultural policy is not just the domain of a relatively minor branch of government, but a necessary part of what holds a particular social and political order together.

This concept of cultural policy was subsequently refined and developed in a special issue of the International Journal of Cultural Policy, which Jeremy co-edited with Oliver Bennett in 2009. In this issue, the Roman Catholic Church, Islamic institutions in Egypt, Working Mens’ Clubs in England and elements of the British media were all seen to be operating forms of implicit cultural policy.

This research has provided a framework for further advances in cultural policy studies, resulting in the first instance in another special issue of the International Journal of Cultural Policy (2011), also edited by Jeremy and Oliver, on the subject of religion and cultural policy. Oliver has gone on to explore the institutional promotion of hope and optimism as a form of cultural policy, resulting in a book, entitled Cultures of Optimism, which will be published by Reaktion in 2014. Jeremy is currently exploring right-wing governmental endeavours to shape cultures in France since 2002 across a range of domains (political secularism, education, television, public historiography, foreign policy). This builds in some respects on his 2010 book Intellectuals, Culture and Public Policy in France: Approaches from the Left.

References

Ahearne, Jeremy (2004) Between Cultural Theory and Policy: the cultural policy thinking of Pierre Bourdieu, Michel de Certeau and Regis Debray, Centre for Cultural Policy Studies, Coventry: University of Warwick

Ahearne, Jeremy (2009) ‘Cultural policy explicit and implicit: a distinction and some uses’, International Journal of Cultural Policy, vol 15, no 2, 141–153

Ahearne, Jeremy (2010), Intellectuals, Culture and Public Policy in France: Approaches from the Left, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press

Ahearne, Jeremy & Bennett, Oliver, eds (2009) International Journal of Cultural Policy – Special Issue on ‘Implicit Cultural Policies’, vol 15, no 2

Ahearne, Jeremy & Bennett, Oliver, eds (2011) International Journal of Cultural Policy – Special Issue on ‘Religion and Cultural Policy’, vol 17, no 2

Bennett, Oliver (2009) ‘On religion and cultural policy: notes on the Roman Catholic Church, International Journal of Cultural Policy, International Journal of Cultural Policy, vol 15, no 2, 155-170

Bennett, Oliver (2011) ‘Cultures of Optimism’, Cultural Sociology, vol 5, no 2, 301-320

Bennett, Oliver (2014, forthcoming) Cultures of Optimism: The Institutional Promotion of Hope, London: Reaktion

Bennett, Oliver (2011) ‘Strategic Canonization: Sanctity, Popular Culture and the Roman Catholic Church’, International Journal of Cultural Policy – Special Issue on ‘Policy and the Popular', ed David Looseley, vol 17, no 4, 438-455