Economy and Culture: Looking for Public Regulation Issues

Essay by venny_mUniversity, Bachelor'sA, March 2006

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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...