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Council of Europe

Culturelink review, no.37/August 2002 - contents - imprint - archive

Differing Diversities: Cultural Policy and Cultural Diversity

by Tony Bennett
Council of Europe Publishing, Cultural Policy and Action Department, 2001, 201 pp., ISBN 92-871-4649-7

The book Differing Diversities: Cultural Policy and Cultural Diversity is probably the first comparative study looking systematically at the relations between cultural policy and cultural diversity from an international perspective. It is also a part of the programme of transversal studies of cultural policies developed by the Council of Europe's Directorate of Culture and Cultural and Natural Heritage and it aims to complement the Council's national cultural policy reviews by considering the lessons to be drawn from a comparative and contrastive analysis of the structures, procedures and instruments that support the development, implementation and assessment of cultural policies in different international contexts.

In the introductory part of the book, the author explains the context in which this study was undertaken. This research takes account of cultural diversity as a result of a historical process of patterns of migration into and across different states, as well as cultural diversity that has subsisted within different polities over longer periods of time. Cultural diversity, in all its forms, is posing a profound challenge to traditional formulations of cultural policy. In most countries the artistic and cultural landscape has not evolved to reflect the realities of a changed social landscape. The shift from homogeneity to diversity as the new social norm requires a rethinking of the processes, mechanisms and relationships needed for democratic policy development in diverse societies.

The book itself is divided into two parts, including the summary and recommendations. The first part of the book consists of Tony Bennett's report which offers an analytical perspective on the role that cultural policies concerned with the maintenance and promotion of cultural diversity can play as a strategic vehicle for the development of different forms of cultural democracy and citizenship appropriate to the changing relations between peoples and polities at the beginning of the 21st century. The author introduces the topic, speaks about the challenge of diversity and also presents comparative research regarding cultural diversity, citizenship, government and cultural policies in several Council of Europe's member countries. The first part of the book concludes with the chapter 'Cultural diversity and cultural democracy', which reviews the prospects for the future development of the forms of cultural diversity examined in the study and places these in the context of broader debates about the relations between cultural diversity, cultural democracy and cultural citizenship. At the end, Bennett reviews the measures that might be taken by the Council of Europe and its member states to further transversal approaches and the development of cultural diversity policies. The second part of the book consists of seven research position papers that were commissioned from acknowledged experts in the relevant fields, with a general brief to review the existing literature relating to the research topic in question and to recommend strategic directions for the conduct of future research relevant to that field:

  • The consequences of European media policies and organisational structures for cultural diversity by Denis McQuail
  • Assessing the implementation of cultural diversity policies by Arnold J. Love
  • The cultural policies of the European Union and cultural diversity by Cris Shore
  • Cultural planning and cultural diversity by Lia Ghilardi
  • The implications of international copyright law for cultural diversity policies by Mira T. Sundara Rajan
  • The role of the media in the cultural practices of diasporic communities by Annabelle Sreberny
  • Preserving cultural diversity through the preservation of biological diversity: indigenous peoples, local communities and the role of digital technologies by Rosemary J. Coombe.

In the preface to this book, Vera Boltho, head of the Cultural Policy and Action Department of the Council of Europe, stresses that one of the main challenges remains finding a way to reconcile democratic public policy with the condition of cultural diversity. Cultural diversity invests national cultural policy with the responsibility to define the new conditions of equity and fairness for cultural participation. The report illustrates the fact that to make democracy possible in our new environment, we will have to re-configure the political meaning of citizenship to take account of the overwhelming importance of the cultural dimension.

To order the book, please contact: Council of Europe Publishing, F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex, France, tel.: +33 (0)3 88 41 25 81; fax: +33 (0)3 8841 39 10; e-mail: publishing@coe.int; http://book.coe.int/