This research funded by a £5k grant from the British Academy aims to clarify the 'transformative' potential of culture in late capitalist society. In response to popular discourses of despair about the inevitability of ecological catastrophe, economic crisis and the erosion of democratic participation, many cultural workers assert that the ‘world-making’ practices of art and education can create space for alternative perspectives and empower people to take action for social change in their everyday lives. At the same time, the future of these very practices is threatened by the commodification of cultural work itself. When authenticity has market value, creativity is cultural capital and reflexive dialogue is good public relations, how does culture function as a critical force in social life? This project explores the motivations, experiences and impacts of cultural workers who lead projects for political empowerment in the arts and education, and who define their work as essential both for creating spaces of greater personal possibility and enabling democratic engagement in public life.
Research dates: 1st August 2010 - 1st February 2012
For more details please contact Dr Sarah Amsler