The Age of Culture
By D. Paul Schafer, Oakville, Canada, Rock's Mills Press, 2014, 231 pp., ISBN 978-0-9881293-2-0
For over four decades, D. Paul Schafer has been working in the cultural field as an educator, advisor, administrator and researcher. He has taught arts administration and cultural policy at York University and University of Toronto, executed a number of projects for Canada's Department of External Affairs, and undertaken several advisory missions to different parts of the world for UNESCO. Paul Schafer is the author of numerous books and articles on culture and the arts in general and on Canadian culture and the arts in particular. This most recent book, The Age of Culture (Rock's Mills Press, 2014) recapitulates that rich experience and his prominent theoretical positions.
Schafer is one of those authors who argue that the entire complex of the current historical milestones can be reduced to a question of swapping places: whether it is culture or economy that becomes the principled case and the main focus of development activities. If, at the same time, a more complete knowledge about the economies and the cultures, as concepts and as reality, was required, even trying to interpret how the economy historically occupied the main place, that does not explain what it all means as sociocultural evolution, neither why the economic ideology has reduced all human values to the economic categories.
Paul Schafer is right, when he says that we need a perspective which will allow us to consider the "big picture" and focus our attention on the whole and on the parts, on the context and the content, on values and value systems, and on strategic relationships between key variables between countries and blocs of countries, between human beings and the natural environment. Such a perspective, he believes, is provided by culture, not in its conventional or political sense, but culture as a whole, everything that exists in society, which we are a product of, and that includes not only the arts, heritage and communication activities, but also the economic sphere, the political processes, social conventions, religious beliefs, scientific theories, educational efforts, ethical ideals and the attitude towards the environment.
At the threshold of a new era of global development and human affairs that should be driven by a holistic cultural perspective, Schafer is arguing tirelessly. One of the biggest challenges for the coming cultural age will be piecing together, making known, and using a cultural worldview to replace the economic worldview. It seems to be his life's mission to affirm this belief. In Paul Schafer's new book, we find some clearly articulated questions that must be asked, and answered, if human well-being is to be a key concern of a cultural age. Namely, making it possible to address people's needs and requirements in a sustained, systematic, proactive, and egalitarian manner (pp. 116-117).
Zagreb Institute of Economics