Professor Justin O’Connor

Queensland University of Technology

Justin O'ConnorJustin O’Connor is Professor in the Creative Industries Faculty, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia and visiting Chair, Department of Humanities, Shanghai Jiaotong University. Until September 2008 he was Professor of Cultural Industries at the School of Performance and Cultural Industries, University of Leeds, where he led an MA in Culture, Creativity and Entrepreneurship. His main areas of interests are contemporary urban cultures, cultural and creative industries, cultural policy and urban regeneration. Justin is leading an ARC linkage project, Creative Clusters, Soft Infrastructure and New Media: Developing Capacity in China and Australia, partnered with Shanghai Jiaotong university, the ‘Creative 100’ cluster (Qingdao) and Arup (Sydney).

Assessing the Cultural Impact of Economics

This paper engages critically with the project of measuring culture. It conducts a critical reading of attempts to measure culture economically, as outlined in the DCMS document “Measuring the Value of Culture” (2010) and related reports such as “Measuring Intrinsic Value” (Bakhshi, Freeman and Hitchen, 2009). These in turn find a response by those who seek to broaden the terms of measurement to other, non-quantative measures, exemplified in John Holden’s “Capturing Cultural Value” (Demos, 2004) and other documents. In this paper I do not look at the particular set of measures, quantitative or qualitative, of culture but at the historical-theoretical transformations that have made culture an object of measurement per se. I suggest this tendency derives less from the need of public policy to justify expenditure – though this plays its part – but more from a transformation of the idea of culture as an object of governance. The response of those who seek to assert an ‘intrinsic value’ in this new context is not sufficient, and the current dilemma (or confusion) of arts agencies everywhere around ‘art and/or culture’ is symptomatic of this. Rather I look at the impact of economics, as a disciplinary force, on cultural policy and the blurring of lines between culture and economic. Only by recognizing these realities can a new kind of ‘post-cultural politics’ be developed.



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