FALL 2010: Theoretical Approaches to Cultural Policy

FALL 2010: Theoretical Approaches to Cultural Policy

CMCT 6301 3.0 credits
Professor Rosemary J. Coombe
Canada Research Chair in Law, Communication and Culture
TEL x30157 (York)
Office Hours: TBA
E-mail: rcoombe@yorku.ca
Class Meets: TBA
Room: TBA


This course of reading provides graduate students with an introduction to theoretical concepts and approaches to the policy dimensions of culture. Theoretical approaches that have shaped critical scholarly discourse on cultural policy are studied, drawn from disciplines of social science and the humanities. The course of reading will examine the origins, development and paradigmatic shifts within cultural policy studies and its relationship to cultural studies. Key theoretical perspectives on culture, on cultural policy and on the study of policy will be presented, particularly the tension between the conceptual and the practical. We consider how policy perspectives contribute to the analysis of culture — whether the arts, ways of life, media, cultural heritage, as well as visions of ‘community’ and citizenship — and how the management of culture operates as a form of power. Exploring the rationales offered for cultural policy initiatives at the local, national and international level, in relationship to forces of neoliberalism and globalization. Students are encouraged to consider alternative theoretical perspectives on cultural policy that address issues such as development, cultural recognition, democratic practices, social critique.

Note: This syllabus was first put together by Susan Ashley, a senior PhD student in the Program as part of an answer to one of her comprehensive examination questions in the spring of 2008 and we hope that Susan will soon be teaching a course based upon this syllabus to which we can refer students so that it doesn’t need to be used only as the basis for directed reading. We appreciate and applaud her work in putting the first version of this list together and acknowledge our debt to her. It has since been restructured, revised, and updated with materials selected by Nicole Aylwin, another student in the Communications and Culture Program with input from Professor Coombe, solely to serve as an aid to students in the Joint Program in Communication and Culture at York and Ryerson Universities who have expressed an interest in reading on this theme in the absence of a theoretical course in the program that can serve as a foundations course in Policy to serve as a counterpart to the foundations course in Politics.

Student Section

Course Number: CMCT6301
Field: Communication & Culture
School: York University
Date Published: September 6, 2010