söndag, september 16, 2007


Så var det dags. I fredags var jag över till universitetet och ägnade dagen åt spikningsceremoni och åt att posta min avhandling till en mängd olika människor och institutioner.

Nationalising Culture: The Reorganisation of National Culture in Swedish Cultural Policy 1970-2002

Abstract: Genom jämförande analys av svensk statlig kulturpolitik (inklusive konstpolitik, kulturarvspolitik och religionspolitik) under riksdagsperioderna 1970-73, 1991-94, 1994-98 and 1998-2002 undersöks relationen mellan kulturpolitiken och föreställningen om nationen som en homogen kulturell gemenskap som i vissa fall tänks inkludera dess innevånare och i andra fall en etnisk grupp. Nyinstitutionell analys av kulturpolitik som organisatoriskt fält kombineras med analys av hur nationen konceptualiseras som en föreställd gemenskap och vilka värderingar den upprätthåller för att visa hur dessa värden och koncept institutionaliseras i statens kulturpolitik och hur denna bidrar till att upprätthålla nationalstatens legitimitet.
När en enhetlig kulturpolitik etablerades i Sverige i början av 1970-talet var de flesta av de ingående fälten redan låsta i sedan länge etablerade stigberoenden som band konstpolitiken till upprätthållandet av estetiska värden inom ramarna för en med utgångspunkt i staten definierad nation samtidigt som kulturarvspolitiken bundits vid etniskt partikularistiska nationskoncept och kyrkopolitiken slets mellan universalism och etnisk partikularism (vilket komplicerade kyrka-stat-relationen). Motsättningar hanterades genom kraftiga institutionella gränser mellan fälten. Till dessa fogades en övergripande kulturpolitik baserad på universella civila värden inom ramarna för den statsdefinierade nationen. Sedan dess har konflikten mellan kyrka och stat lösts upp och kulturarvspolitiken integrerats i den generella kulturpolitiken bl.a. genom organisatoriska reformer. I slutet av 1990-talet tycks trenden mot en allt mer integrerad kulturpolitik dock ha vänt bl.a. genom direkta men begränsade regeringsinitiativ. Den domineras fortfarande av universella civila värden, men också av alltmer mångetniska föreställningar om nationen.

Utdrag: Like most modern states Sweden has a cultural policy. Very few people seem to question that the Swedish state should continue to support such activities as opera, symphony orchestras, Swedish literature, museums and religious denominations, or that it should legally limit, for example, the export of the material cultural heritage or the freedom of owners to make changes in buildings included in this. On the other hand very few people suggest that the State should support rock concerts or the import of English literary classics to any comparable extent, neither do many question the general norms behind these rules. In 2006 even a rumour that the new Minister of Culture questioned State support for the cultural field was enough to provoke a storm of protest (ultimately she was forced to resign, because of unpaid TV licence fees). On the other hand many Swedish politicians, including her successor, seem to believe that cultural policy is of little importance in national politics and that its central norms are uncontroversial. Yet, there are, as I will show, major differences between the various political positions, even on important points. The cultural landscape of Sweden is changing: “foreign” cultural expressions – from American films to books in Arabic – are becoming increasingly accessible. At the same time an increasing part of the population consists of immigrants. The State, somewhat paradoxically, simultaneously supports Swedish cultural production, protects it from foreign influences and promotes the concept of Sweden as a multicultural society. There are also signs that cultural policy is now becoming more explicitly – sometimes violently – controversial in Sweden as well as in many other countries.


I will argue that this seemingly paradoxical belief in a consensus on these matters is connected with the idea that Sweden is a nation and that as a nation it has (or has at least once had) a homogenous culture. To understand conflicts, or the lack of conflicts, in cultural policy it is thus not enough to study the values that it promotes; one also has to study how these relate to the concept of a national community that is supposed to be homogenous in relation to them.


one may also ask if national cultural policy will survive as an integrated field. At the end of this study it appears to be disintegrating. That new concepts of values and the nation have motivated the creation of new institutions in cultural policy helps explain this. Studying values and concepts of the nation is thus important to cultural policy research. That culture is becoming increasingly important in politics does, however, not mean that cultural policy as a sector will become more important or that the Ministry of Culture – or any of its other actors – will either gain or become the subject of increasing conflict. New actors are moving in on the field and may become more important than the old ones. These new actors include other ministries as well as foundations, municipalities, counties, the EU and others. Their involvement supports the claim that culture is becoming more important in society. They, however, often follow other norms than the cultural policy field. The institutions of cultural policy appear, on the other hand, to be far more long-lived than the values that originally legitimised them. Institutions and cultural establishments are thus often more long-lived than philosophical and political opinions of what culture is or should be. It is therefore likely that actors now under attack will find new ways to define a legitimate relationship to the nation, the nation-state and whatever actors and identities may compete with these in the future. Many of the actors of cultural policy have after all done so several times in the past. This is one way to interpret the increased authority of civil values in Swedish national cultural policy (as well as of economic values to many other actors in the cultural field ): as a new way to legitimise actors and institutions.


Cultural policy has been a major part of the nation-state’s work to control national identity among its citizens and denizens for a long time. Is cultural policy now losing the authority necessary for this role? Is the current interest in cultural policy research a sign that the legitimacy of national cultural policy is not as evident as it once was [...] The quantitative investigations made by the Culture Commission indicated that cultural policy between 1974 and 1994 had failed to reach the aim of making the citizens and denizens of Sweden take part of the culture made available to them by it. It did, however, appear to have succeeded in upholding the authority of high culture. At least no political party has in practical politics questioned its right to State support.
This authority – and thus the legitimacy of the cultural policy field – rests, however, on what the citizens of Sweden consider appropriate. Whether the Swedish policy of cultural integration in favour of common civil values will be successful or whether the future holds a more disintegrated society, as the one envisioned by Tilly or Castells (see Chapter II), is obviously a question that cannot be answered by a study of how the Swedish state responds to the situation. The State does, however, appear to refer more to universal civil values now than it did before. This stands in clear contrast to the particularism considered to have characterised state legitimation in the era of nationalism, and perhaps less so to the universalism of pre-nationalist times.

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