The Mystification of Digital Technology in Norwegian Policies on Archives, Libraries and Museums: Digitalization as Policy Imperative

  • Erik Henningsen The Department for Welfare, Democracy and Governance, Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research, Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway
  • Håkon Larsen Department of Archivistics, Library and Information Science, Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway
Keywords: Digitalization, Cultural Policy, Cultural Heritage, Cultural Sociology, ALM, Norway

Abstract

In this article, we investigate how digitalization has attained the role of policy imperative in the culture sector, and how the imperative is influencing contemporary policy discourses on archives, libraries and museums (ALM-organizations) in Norway. We have analyzed policy documents issued by state authorities within the Norwegian ALM-sector since the time around the turn of the century, and demonstrate through the analysis that one must take three types of cultural processes into consideration in order to understand how digitalization has attained the status as policy imperative. Each of the cultural processes amounts to a form of mystification. Firstly, one must understand that digitalization’s ascendancy into a policy imperative is in part a process of imitation, of other countries and societal sectors. Secondly, one must take into account the conceptual framing of the policy discourse, in particular in relation to the epochalist vision that structure the discourse. Thirdly, one must take into account the process of fetishism which is at work in this policy discourse. Combined, these processes lead to digitalization being perceived as a force which is external to social relations, dictating action on the part of actors working within the sector. As such, digitalization comes effectively to serve as an overarching policy imperative in the culture sector.

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Published
2020-05-04
Section
Articles