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‘Museums, Social Capital, and Everyday Life Gaynor Bagnall.

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Presentation on theme: "‘Museums, Social Capital, and Everyday Life Gaynor Bagnall."— Presentation transcript:

1 ‘Museums, Social Capital, and Everyday Life Gaynor Bagnall

2 Why the interest in the ‘Social’ 'increasing evidence shows that social cohesion is critical for societies to prosper economically and for development to be sustainable…Social capital is not just the sum of the institutions which underpin a society – it is the glue that holds them together' (The World Bank 1999)

3 The Policy Context: MLA Generic Social Outcomes; The Context Awareness of social impact of museums Potential of museums to develop ‘social capital’ Belief - cultural participation was linked to the development of social capital New Labour/Gov’t policy about value of communitanarism GSO framework about enabling Museums to ‘Deliver’ – to key agendas, to communities, to policy priorities ‘Evidence’ their contribution Measure Social Impact ‘Instrumental’ approach Reductionist approach Social Capital - ‘ a troubled concept’ (Adkins, 2005)

4 Social Capital: The ‘official version’ Key indicators, social relations, formal and informal social networks, group membership, trust, reciprocity and civic engagement Relationships matter & social networks are a valuable asset Interaction enables people to build communities, to commit themselves to each other, and to knit the social fabric. A sense of belonging, social networks, relationships of trust and tolerance are seen as beneficial Decline in Social Capital negative consequences for society

5 Defining Social Capital: Bourdieu & Putnam Bourdieu (1983) Access to social networks and resources Related to Social class & to other capitals, cultural & economic – unequal access to resources & inequalities of power SC a means to access and hold onto power - those in privileged positions use social networks to maintain their position Putnam (2000) Social networks & civic virtue Membership of Voluntary associations key SC a feature of communities Community connectedness makes an enormous difference to lives Different dimensions to SC – ‘bridging’ & ‘bonding’ Issues for Museums & Questions about Value – what types/forms of SC are being generated - does this problematize simplistic measurement of SC under ‘headings’ & implications of SC being related to prod/reproduction of inequalities

6 Social Capital & NL Gov’t Policy SC popular with NL fits with 3 rd way of NLP Deficit model - Repairing & enhancing SC seen as a means to deal with difficult social issues – SC a panacea Emphasis on Community – civic decline seen as key cause of political & social ills (Giddens, 1998) Social involvement key to well-being of communities BUT Communities presented as undifferentiated, with shared understandings, tensions concealed (James & James, 2001) Social capital provides non-economic solutions to social problems - economy is not presented as the cause of social inequalities The individual becomes responsible for their own inequalities How does that fit with a Museum world where there are still patterns of inequality in terms of visiting - that are linked to economic and cultural differences & inequalities. Diverting attention away from economic inequalities raises the issue as to who gains by the focus on social outcomes & social capital.

7 Consumption, Culture & Performance Consumer society, where consumption shapes our identities ‘consumption now affects the ways in which people build up, and maintain, a sense of who they are, and who they wish to be. It has become entwined with the processes surrounding the development of an identity’ (Chaney:1996, x) And Performative society – social life dramatic, presentation of self, play particular roles, but everyday life is a performance ‘So deeply infused into everyday life is performance that we are unaware of it in ourselves or in others. Life is a constant performance; we are audience and performer at the same time; everybody is an audience all the time.’ (Abercrombie & Longhurst, 1998:72-73, Audiences) Both these process still framed by social factors such as class, gender, ethnicity – museums site of consumption & performativity

8 The Research: Globalization & Belonging (2005) Research on 4 contrasting locations around Manchester (182 in-depth interviews) Relationship between locale, lifestyles & identity Social & Cultural Practices in Context - Topics –neighbourhood & locality, cultural & leisure interests, household relationships, work and employment, and finally attitudes regarding class, ethnicity, and other discrete topics

9 Elective Belonging Elective Belonging - a way of thinking about the attachment people have to places where they have decided to live Belonging not linked to historical roots - rather something that can be ‘achieved’ Belonging is not to a fixed community – places seen as sites for performing identities People locate themselves in places though parenting, shopping, working, and engaging with cultural sites such as museums Draw on their imaginary vision of place, a knowledge of the cultural geography – cultural sites such as museums part of this People concerned with Place as a marker Value of museums in enabling people to ‘achieve’ belonging

10 The Museum, Consumption, Performance, Belonging & Everyday Life City is narrated as set of consumption spaces to be viewed & lived – museums part of this Museums narrated as consumption spaces in which to perform identity of parent – cultural capital? Museums narrated as spaces to perform belonging and attachment to place – part of the cultural landscape – part of what makes a place (Manchester) valued Museums place to perform identities of everyday life - important to recognize flow of everyday life (parenting) in cultural participation & engagement Value of museums lies in their ability to enable the performance of identities and belonging

11 Conclusions GSO & instrumental approach problematic – no easy ‘value free’ definitions of social capital Doesn’t mean Museums aren’t able to generate it but need to be careful about what type of capital we are talking about and the impact that might then have Society is increasingly informed by consumption and performativity – how does that affect the value of museums as places in which to consume & perform – but need to consider how this framed by social factors such as class, gender, ethnicity – museums role in ‘everyday life’ Generally quantitative collection of data not nuanced enough to capture the fullness of the ‘value’ of museums – GSO model might serve interests of Gov’t & MLA - but does it really serve the interests of museums and the communities and audiences they serve

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