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This strand is coordinated by Dr Lisanne Gibson and Dr Eleonora Belfiore.  A series of discrete historical projects will result in an integrated, critical examination of the terms, narratives and assumptions constructing present day notions of participation and value and the relations between them.

This will be undertaken through discrete projects on six inter-related thematic histories:

1. Political discourses of participation and value

This will trace the long-run intellectual history of cultural participation, examining its links with ideas of civic engagement and community well-being and prosperity. It will explore how the attachment of certain types of participation to particular forms of value became embedded in and reproduced by institutions and policy.

Researchers: Dr Eleonora Belfiore and Dr Felicity James

2. Cultural policy, place and economy

This will examine the historical role of location as a co-ordinate of cultural policy and investment. In particular, it will investigate how, and with what effects for understanding participation and value, the spatialisation of culture and economy has been defined and enacted in different policy moments and contexts since 1945.

Researcher: Dr Lisanne Gibson

3. Cultural technologies and indicators

This will assess tools for capturing participation and representing its cultural value, focusing particularly on the technologies of indication and measurement associated with policy appraisal and formation since the mid-1990s (e.g. the Taking Part Survey) and on the work that methods ‘do’ in actively constructing the socio-cultural world.

Researchers: Catherine Bunting, Dr Abigail Gilmore and Dr Andrew Miles

4. Everyday life

This strand examines shifting treatments and representations of the ‘everyday’, exploring the role of commonplace practices and associational life in defining cultures, communities and relations of power and value, conceptions of time use and demarcations between work and leisure, and the commercialisation and privatisation of culture.

Researchers: Dr Andrew Miles and Dr Jane Milling

5. Community and cultural policy

This will develop an historical perspective on changing understandings and uses of the term ‘community’ in relation to cultural practices and policy, and particularly in the context of debates about the role of arts and culture in creating value through community well-being and social engagement.

Researchers: Dr Jane Milling and Dr Kerrie Shaefer

PhD Project

‘Pride comes before a fall? Culture and the construction of civic identity in South and West Yorkshire in the industrial and post-industrial ages’ (working title)

How has local cultural policy and programming been utilised to construct and re-construct identity in the urban centres and the communities which grew in South and West Yorkshire as a result of the industrial revolution and which are now coming to terms with the post-industrial age, and what role has everyday community participation in cultural activity played in the construction of identity in these places?

PhD Candidate: Sarah Hughes
Supervisor: Dr Lisanne Gibson

Planned outcomes


There will be a number of different types of publications emanating from each of these historical projects, including an edited book, details to be provided here in due course.


‘Histories of participation, value and governance’

Location: School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester

Date: late 2014 date to be confirmed.
Convenors: Dr Lisanne Gibson and Dr Eleonora Belfiore

This work commenced in February 2012 and will run until the end of 2014.

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