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Governing culture: Legislators, interpreters and accountants

Claire Donovan and O’Brien, Dave

CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, 2016, vol. 37, issue C, 24-34

Abstract: Cultural policy has become dominated by questions of how to account for the intangible value of government investments. This is as a result of longstanding developments within government’s approaches to policy making, most notably those influenced by practices of audit and accounting. This paper will outline these developments with reference to Peter Miller’s concept of calculative practices, and will argue two central points: first, that there are practical solutions to the problem of measuring the value of culture that connect central government discourses with the discourses of the cultural sector; and second, the paper will demonstrate how academic work has been central to this area of policy making. As a result of the centrality of accounting academics in cultural policy, for example in providing advice on the appropriate measurement tools and techniques, questions are raised about the role academia might take vis-à-vis public policy. Accounting professionals and academics not only provide technical expertise that informs state calculative practices, but also play a surveillance role through the audit and evaluation of government programmes, and act as interpreters in defining terms of performance measurement, success and failure. The paper therefore concludes by reflecting on recent work by Phillip Schlesinger to preserve academic integrity whilst allowing accounting scholars and academics influence and partnership in policy.

Keywords: Les arts; La culture populaire; Las artes; La cultura popular; Academia; Bauman; Calculative practices; Cultural policy; Cultural value; Multi-criteria analysis (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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DOI: 10.1016/

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Handle: RePEc:eee:crpeac:v:37:y:2016:i:c:p:24-34