Understanding Cultural Participation and Value in Barnsley
thesisposted on 03.07.2018, 14:40 by Sarah Louise Hughes
This thesis sets out to question representations of culture constructed in relation to the English town of Barnsley. The thesis asks whether such representations might be implicated in the reproduction of social and economic inequalities in relation to distinct geographical places and their communities and seeks to reveal new representations generated through detailed oral history interviews. Drawing upon official statistics and a number of example press representations of Barnsley in relation to culture, the thesis begins by discussing existing constructions of Barnsley’s cultural ecology. The thesis then considers narratives of cultural participation generated through oral history interviews undertaken with people from Barnsley in order to investigate the articulated experiences and stated cultural values of individuals who have spent their lives in the town. The thesis gives voice to people from Barnsley as a route to complicating understandings of the cultural ecology of the town. The thesis also briefly investigates a key moment in the historical development of a particular cultural institution, the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation, seeking to understand the relationship between this history and some of the distinctive aspects of cultural participation and value forming a part of Barnsley’s cultural ecology. The thesis seeks to inform cultural policy debate through deepening understanding of, and gaining recognition for, particular aspects of cultural participation and articulations of cultural value existing within the town of Barnsley. Moreover, the thesis argues for the inclusion of diverse perspectives within cultural policy debates and decision making processes at all levels in order that our collective understanding of what culture might entail is enriched and our cultural policymaking is democratised, limiting opportunity for a narrowly defined ‘culture’ to be utilised as a tool in the reproduction of social and economic inequalities within society.