Convergence, Creative Industries and Civil Society: Towards a New Agenda for Cultural Policy and Cultural Studies


  • Colin Mercer



Creative industries, cultural studies, cultural policy, governmentality


In this article I start with a personal experience “cameo” from 1996 in Australia and extrapolate from that some issues that remain relevant in the sometimes troubled relationship between cultural studies and cultural policy. These are encapsulated in the three “cs” of convergence, creative industries and civil society which provide a new context for both new research and new policy settings. The argument is developed and situated in historical terms by examining the “cultural technologies”, especially the newspaper, and subsequently print media in the 19th century, electronic media in the 20th century and digital media in the 21st century which provide the content, the technologies and the rituals for “imagining” our sense of place and belonging. This is then linked to ways of understanding culture and cultural technologies in the context of governmentality and the emergence of culture as a strategic object of policy with the aim of citizen- and population formation and management. This argument is then linked to four contemporary “testbeds” – cultural mapping and planning, cultural statistics and indicators, cultural citizenship and identity, and research of and for cultural policy – and priorities for cultural policy where cultural studies work has been extremely enabling and productive. The article concludes with an argument, derived from the early 20th century work of Patrick Geddes of the necessity of linking, researching, understanding and operationalising the three key elements and disciplines of Folk (anthropology), Work (economics), and Place (geography) in order to properly situate cultural policy, mapping and planning and their relationship to cultural studies and other disciplines.


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How to Cite

Mercer, C. (2009) “Convergence, Creative Industries and Civil Society: Towards a New Agenda for Cultural Policy and Cultural Studies”, Culture Unbound, 1(1), pp. 179–204. doi: 10.3384/cu.2000.1525.09111179.