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Religion and Cultural Policy

In recent years, researchers at the Centre have broadened the scope of cultural policy studies, by focusing on those policies that are not explicitly labelled as cultural, but which work powerfully to shape the culture (attitudes and behaviours) of a particular group or groups of people. Such 'implicit' cultural policies can be pursued by many different agencies, both inside governments and without.

The idea of ‘implicit’ cultural policy was first introduced by Jeremy Ahearne, in a paper published by this Centre in 2004. It 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.

The Centre subsequently focused more specifically on the topic of religion and cultural policy and set out to explore the following themes:

  • The strategies through which religious organisations seek to shape popular cultures (with particular reference to the use of the media by Islamic organisations in Turkey and Egypt, the uses of canonisation by the Catholic Church, and the influence of religious institutions on the UK media)
  • The relations between religious organisations and national education systems (with particular reference to Australia, Turkey, and France)
  • The relations between different religious and lay organisations in terms of competing culture-shaping strategies, as reflected both in dedicated cultural policy institutions (the Glasgow Museum of World Religions), but also in terms of wider cultural strategies in different national settings (notably in Turkey).
  • The relation of religion to the promotion of optimism, as a form of implicit cultural policy

In order to prevent excessive dispersion in what is necessarily at this stage a somewhat inchoate domain, we initially restricted ourselves to the traditions of Christianity, Islam and laicity.

To this end, the Centre hosted a one-day workshop at Scarman House, University of Warwick, on Saturday April 24th 2010, with speakers from Australia, Turkey, the US and the UK. Click here for further details. Papers delivered at this workshop were developed and published in a special issue of the International Journal of Cultural Policy on ‘religion and cultural policy’, co-edited by Jeremy Ahearne and Oliver Bennett (vol 17, no 2, 2011). In addition, Oliver Bennett contributed an article entitled ‘Strategic Canonization: Sanctity, Popular Culture and the Catholic Church’, to a further special issue of the IJCP on the topic of ‘Policy and the Popular’, edited by David Looseley (vol 17, no 4, 2011). Oliver also gave a public lecture on this topic on Feb 3rd 2010 (click here for further details).

References

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

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

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

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

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

Bennett, O. (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