Dr Scott Brook

University of Canberra

Scott BrookScott Brook is Assistant Professor of Writing at the University of Canberra where his research focuses on modern governmental uses of ‘creativity’. He has also published widely on Vietnamese Australian cultural production from the point of view of Australian cultural policy, and has overseen and made submissions to scoping studies on cultural planning for local government. Recent articles and chapters appear in Culture and Local Governance (2011), Australian Made: A Multicultural Reader (SUP 2011), Amerasia Journal (2010) and Text (2010).

Cultural capital and cultural policy, Bourdieu and biopolitics

Following UNESCO’s call for ‘quantitative cultural indicators’ in 1996, the notion of cultural capital has been increasingly deployed by cultural planners and policy researchers according to strikingly different governmental agendas. Although it has been used in a manner that is consistent with Bourdieu’s critique of the role of culture in reproducing social inequalities, it has also been annexed to advanced liberal agendas that jettison such critical purposes in favour of more limited goals – such as targeting particular ‘cultural capital deficient’ populations for social inclusion, and annexing ‘cultural capital rich’ locales to an innovation economy.

While it is possible to lament these more recent uses of cultural capital as insufficiently Bourdieusian, with hindsight they can also be viewed as an index of the extent to which Bourdieu’s account emerged in dialogue with one of advanced liberalism’s key intellectual inputs – human capital theory. Although Bourdieu was clearly opposed to the politics of neoliberalism and developed the notion of cultural capital in order to account for the mechanisms of social reproduction that were ignored by human capital theory, we might also suggest that this critique was developed from within the horizon of a shared approach to calculating and governing the social. This was a new form of biopolitical reasoning in which the erstwhile ‘social subject’ of state policy was to be refigured in terms of the deeper and more intimate forms of economy that subtend social action.



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