Home Political science Cultural Governance and the European Union: Protecting and Promoting Cultural Diversity in Europe
The developments discussed here clearly demonstrate the role of DG EAC as an 'advocate', trying to push public policy in one specific direction (Baumgartner, 2007). But more interesting is the identification of the factors which enabled a DG considered small and little influential to reframe culture as a key factor of economic competitiveness, and impose this programmatic solution both within the Commission and at the inter-governmental level. In this case, the properties of the 'creativity frame' itself were key. First, the 'creativity frame' successfully established a connection between certain policy problems, such as lack of economic competitiveness and slow growth in the EU, and the potential of culture, encompassed within a discourse on the role of creativity, as a successful policy solution. EU officials legitimised the idea that culture could be a solution to broader challenges by making use of a diverse range of resources: ordering of expert studies, use of statistics and appeal to well-established themes such as the knowledge society and the power of creativity, which were already associated with positive undertones.
Second, the properties of the 'creativity frame' fitted in with the broader EU political context. As predicted by agenda-setting studies, the choice of rhetoric in advocates' strategies to influence public policy is crucial to determining whether they can success in overturning existing understandings of a given policy issue. As argued by Baumgartner (2007: 485-486), the cultural policy case demonstrates that rhetoric of an economic nature more often makes its way in the EU policy process.
Third, the properties of the 'creativity frame' made it a strong tool of mobilisation of formerly opposed interests. Because the rhetoric of the frame was vague, in terms of concrete policy objectives, it could appeal to representatives of the arts sector and the cultural industries alike. While different interest groups certainly did not see the advantages to be gained from the new agenda in the same way, they could all perceive potential benefits in supporting the programmatic shift. Art professionals also acknowledged that focusing on the instrumentality of culture was the most efficient path for obtaining more funds for the sector. In the absence of a genuine European 'public sphere', EU policy-makers do not extend conflicts to the 'public at large' in order to change the balance of support in favour of their preferred agenda (Princen, 2007). They can, however, mobilise organised interests in a policy sector. Conflict expansion is, arguably, a very efficient tool of policy control, insofar as it is a targeted process towards specific interests. DG EAC was able to structure the organisation of communication platforms with societal interests, both by structuring the gathering of participants and by shaping the contours of policy debates along its favoured frames.
1. The term was coined for the first time by Adorno and Horkheimer (1979), in their endeavour to highlight what they saw as a paradoxical linkage between culture and industry.
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