By Jim McGuigan
Jim McGuigan discusses cultural coverage as a manifestation of cultural politics within the widest experience. Illustrating his case with examples from contemporary cultural coverage projects in Britain, the U.S. and Australia, he appears at:* the increase of marketplace reasoning in arts management* city regeneration and the humanities* background tourism* Race, identification and cultural citizenship* Censorship and ethical law* The position of computer-mediated communique in democratic discourse
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An incompetent person in Bourdieu’s terms would classify it simply as a picture of flowers. A slightly more competent person would be able to specify that it was by Van Gogh and provide some minimal contextual background—that he also painted a pair of old boots, that he cut off his ear and sent it to his girl friend, and that he eventually committed suicide. A truly competent person, however, would be able to place the 32 QUESTIONS OF VALUE picture in relation to Van Gogh’s total oeuvre, to compare his subject matter and technique to other artists of the period, to say that it was expressionist rather than impressionist and so on.
That also puts them in an exploitative role. They are both exploited and exploiting, which is the general fate of the middle class and which makes its politics so indeterminate and malleable. Wright quite deliberately developed his theory of 37 CULTURE AND THE PUBLIC SHERE ‘contradictory class locations’ to counter theories of the emergence of a distinctly ‘new class’ (for instance, Galbraith, 1958). However, this has not stopped others of a similar theoretical persuasion coming up with exactly that, such as the Ehrenreichs’ (1979) conceptualisation of the ‘Professional-Managerial Class (PMC)’.
Curran’s radical-democratic model is based upon the assumption that ‘a central role for the media should be defined as assisting the equitable negotiation or arbitration of competing interests through democratic processes’ (p. 30). Left to its own devices, the market will not bring this about, nor have democratic communications ever been achieved under exclusively state-controlled systems, although public intervention and regulation, in Curran’s view, are still necessary requirements. Such arguments are commonly made with regard to democratic entitlement to the culture and information necessary for exercising citizenship rights knowledgeably: debate on the communicative properties of the public sphere, institutional and 27 CULTURE AND THE PUBLIC SHERE technological change, from the broad perspective of the political economy of communications and culture, usually stresses these considerations.