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Economy And Culture: Looking For Public Regulation Issues

2714 words - 11 pages

What is at stake in culture cannot be merely reduced to identity expressions (national, geographical, religious, communities). Economic dimensions of culture has more and more to be taken in consideration if one wish to understand arguments and debates developed at national and international level on this topic.Today, issues related to culture are often dealt with in relation with cultural diversity, a concept that has only recently replaced the notion of "cultural exception", which itself surfaced during the Uruguay Round in 1993. The shift from one term to another is not merely semantic. It reflects the emergence of a broadened concept of cultural stakes in the context of globalization. These stakes are no longer strictly reduced to the need to maintain an international balance in the production and exchange of cultural goods; they rather convey a growing concern to defend identities (national, geographic, religious, historical, etc.) in a globalized world where culture quite naturally has its place.A country's desire to protect the specificity of its cultural industries is not new. From time immemorial, culture has fed on exchanges between neighbours, or even between colonizers and colonized, without going as far back as ancient Greece, which by and large appropriated Egyptian culture before being "plundered" itself by the Romans. More recently, David Putnam (1) noted that, in the film industry, defending a national industry in a context of international trade competition between Europe and the United States has consistently been a concern, both for the Americans (before the First World War) and for the Europeans (since then).Yet there is no gain saying that the intensification of trade and the existence, at the world level, of multimedia groups integrated into production and distribution pose the national question in the cultural field in new terms: cultural goods indeed tend to be viewed straightaway from a supranational perspective, thus erasing all specificity with regard to forms of production and appropriation of culture.Issues at stakes are not only about identity. Culture is one of the leading sources of content and economic wealth; it is one of the leading US and several other countries' export sectors. There is a clear oligopolistic tendency as a few globalized firms have come to control up to 85% of the dissemination of works, in both the film and record industries.This high degree of concentration stems from a growing cultural industrialization that entails its own limits. By its very nature, the production of a cultural good is grounded in an original artistic and cultural contribution. Systematically streamlining this production could gradually erase all originality and risk-taking in the creative process, leading ipso facto to a trivialization of cultural products that could lead the public to lose interest. Cultural industries do more than just meet functional needs. The symbolic value of cultural products is much greater than...

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