Sunday, July 15, 2012

What is Cultural Capital?

Cultural capital is the wealth that is created when society recognises and invests in the components of culture and also when culture is used to provide economic social, environmental and cultural wellbeing?    It is also about creating income, self employment and social capital.
Here are a few definitions to help you understand this value:

To understand Cultural Capital and Cultural Well-being you should download and read "Cultural Well-being and Cultural Capital" by Penny Eames; /

 If you don't want to download then try some of these definitions:

Cultural capital describes the value of culture when measured as an asset in terms of economic, social and environmental resources”[1].

“...the term cultural capital is used because, like money, our cultural inheritance can be translated into social resources (things like wealth, power and status) and the cultural capital we accumulate from birth can be “spent:’ in education systems as we try to achieve things that are considered to be culturally important[2]”.

“Cultural capital is an important aspect of social capital and social capital is an expression of cultural capital in practice.   Social capital is based on and grows from the norm, values networks and ways of operating that are the core of cultural capital”.[3]

To understand these quotes we also need to understand what we mean by the word culture.  The easiest definition I have found is based if from UNESCO and this definition was accepted and adopted in the Declaration on Cultural Diversity in 2001.

...culture should be regarded as the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual emotional features of society or a social groups, and ... it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs[4]

In my publications I have simplified the meanings and suggest that  “culture is the histories (myths), ideologies, values and the rituals that expresses them[5].

This simple definition gives us the headings for analysing the existing culture of a society, town, community or group.   We can look at these different headings – histories (heritage and myths), values, ideologies and rituals (ceremonies behaviours) and note the positives and negatives. Then we can see how these characteristics of culture can be used to enhance wellbeing generally and become assets

[1] Eames Cultural Well-being and Cultural Capital 2006
[4] UNESCO 2002  UNESCO (2001Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity   Adopted by the 31st session of the UNESCO General Conference, Paris, 2 November 2001
[5] Eames 2009  Spirituality of Older New Zealanders : Bishops Action Foundation  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Cultural Wellbeing includes social wellbeing

There is now a significant amount of research showing the value of Social Capital, but not as much research demonstrating the importance of Cultural Capital. 

Cultural Capital is about the histories, ideologies, values and rituals of a society and how to measure that in terms of capital and wealth.   Social Capital is only a small amount of this.    It is worth looking at my paper on my website  and under Cultural Economics download my paper to the 17th International Conference on Cultural Economics.

The paper was warmly received particularly the emphasis on Genuine Progress Indicators and Sustainable development.

These buddha look so happy and warm on the side of the road in Japan.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Japan and Cultural Economics Conference

It was great having the opportunity to give a paper at the Cultural Economics Conference in Kyoto last month.   Stimulating to hear speaker after speaker emphasising the value of culture and cultural capital.

Of particular interest were papers on the way Libraries can adapt to the world of E readers and become the Third Place in towns and the hug for development.

Other papers showed how valuable having a highly experienced, intellegent and senior administrator in Local Government positions makes such a difference to the nurturing of creative towns and cities.

 The suggestion backed up with research was that it is often one or two people, sometimes the Mayor, Deputy Mayor or a senior local government official that stimulates creativity in a society.   They need others including artists to provide the sparks, but they only light up when the administator of local government official lights the match and/ or brings others together to stimulate the sector to be creative and thus create creative cities or towns.