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Questioning European creative and cultural industry policies

Philip Schlesinger questions the popularity of the notion of creative industries in the policy discourse, and explains how European institutions adopted it. He develops a critical reflexion on the way in which the economic rhetoric came to dominate the cultural field.

According to Philippe Schlesinger, the creative economy is a mobilizing slogan. It has been deployed alongside similar ideas such as creative cities, creative innovation, creative skills, creative education and creative ecology. In the context of the digital revolution, this creative turn and related neologisms were meant to capture transformations in production, circulation and consumption of goods and services.

According to Philip Schlesinger, even if the policy discourse has been characterised by the prevalence of the economic dimension, people may engage in cultural practices for their own satisfaction. But while craft sensibilities still exist, artists and cultural producers encounter tensions as they are trying to make a living out of cultural work.

Philip Schlesinger argues that in the past decade, members of the European Union, the European Commission and Parliament, have changed their conception about the value of culture. This can be seen in successive official reports that they have issued. The cultural and creative industries are central to the European Agenda for Culture. This derives from the EU’s Lisbon strategy for jobs and growth. This led to a tendency to brand Europe as a place where people can create. It also led to the creation of new programmes and frameworks to support organisations operating in the creative economy. European policies towards audiovisual industries and cities, have been repackaged as part of the Creative Europe programme.

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Can we go out of this economic paradigm? Who would be legitimate to come up with an alternative?

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This article is from the free online course:

Cultures and Identities in Europe

European University Institute (EUI)