Sovereignty and Software: Rethinking Cultural Policy in a Global Creative Economy
Flew, Terry (2004) Sovereignty and Software: Rethinking Cultural Policy in a Global Creative Economy. In Forum Barcelona 2004 – Communication and cultural diversity: The dialogue, 24-27 MAY, 2004, Barcelona, Spain.
This paper will critically appraise two approaches to cultural policy. The first focuses upon the need for a national cultural policy in order to establish a national 'common culture' among its citizens, through measures to promote the arts and popular media sectors, and set limits to the flow of imported materials into the nation-state. This is what has been termed the 'sovereignty' model, and has historically been the driver of cultural policy debates. It is what is seen as most under threat in the context of the WTO and the GATS, as well as proposed free-trade agreements with the United States.
The second approach, which is being termed the 'software' approach, aims to create cultural infrastructure and other environmental factors to promote a creative economy, whether at local, regional, national or supra-national levels. It questions the historical divides between 'culture' and 'industry', and between 'creativity' and 'innovation', and is focussed upon the development of future ideas and creative concepts. It draws upon national culture and heritage, but aims to avoid the 'museum' model of national culture in an age of globalization, cultural diversity, and the uneven dynamic of creative industries development at sub-national levels. It draws upon the very different conditions associated with the development of software to those of established arts and media sectors, and aims to extend the 'software' model more widely into cultural and creative industries policy. It will be argued in this paper that the 'software' model provides a necessary corrective to the limitations of the 'sovereignty' approach, particularly in its delimiting assumptions about culture, national identity, and the relationship between creativity and commercial activity. At the same time, and in contrast to those who would see models of the creative economy as pointing to the limits of cultural protectionism, it will draw attention to the relationship between forms of 'communicative boundary maintenance' that maintain the core cultural infrastructure required to promote creative industries development, and dynamism in the global creative economy.
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