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No Accounting for Culture? Value in the New Economy

EBS Working Papers
Publication Date
  • Hd28 Management. Industrial Management
  • Economics
  • Linguistics
  • Political Science


This paper explores the articulation of the value of investment in culture and the arts through a critical discourse analysis of policy documents, reports and commentary since 1997. It argues that in this period discourses around the value of culture have moved from the direct economic contributions of the culture industries to indirect economic benefits. These indirect benefits are discussed under three main headings: creativity and innovation, employability and social inclusion. These in turn are analysed in terms of three forms of capital: human, social and cultural. The paper concludes with an analysis of this discursive shift through the lens of autonomist Marxist concerns with the labour of social reproduction. It is our argument that, in contemporary policy discourses on culture and the arts, that government in the UK is increasingly concerned with the use of culture to form the social in the image of capital. As such we have to turn our attention beyond the walls of the factory in order to understand the contemporary capitalist production of value.

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