The Economic Valuation and Commensuration of Cultural Resources: Financing and Monitoring the Swedish Culture Sector
AbstractEconomic sociology treats the process of valuation and commensuration of resources as socially-embedded practices determined by historical, cultural, and political conditions. Empirical studies of valuation and commensuration demonstrate that the practices of creating metrics, accounting procedures, and other forms of numerical representations that denote underlying resources are bound up with social interests and instituted beliefs. Recently, cultural resources and culture production have been advocated as key drivers of economic growth in what has been branded the “the creative economy.” At the same time, a lot of cultural resources and culture production are, historically, not strictly valued in terms of economic worth, instead being commonly regarded as having an intrinsic social value. Such norms disconnect cultural resources and economic worth, while much culture production is simultaneously being funded by welfare states, making the allocation of public funding a matter of professional expertise. This article reports on a study of how officers of a regional Culture Agency allocate regional culture budgets and monitor culture production via processes of valuation and commensuration. The study contributes to our understanding of how valuation and commensuration play a role in non-market or pseudo-market settings where both political interests and wider social interests are bound up with calculative practices.
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