The Evolution of EU Cultural Policy in the Post Maastricht Period

Master thesis by Blanka Konopka, “The Evolution of EU Cultural Policy in the Post-Maastricht Period – Towards Commission Dominance and the Commodification of Culture?”

Culture has been widely treated as having a dual rationale at EU Level, both symbolic and economic, however scholars observing the post-Maastricht period of EU cultural action have noted a steady ‘instrumentalisation’ of culture and recent research suggests that a radical shift has taken place with the symbolic dimension displaced and the economic dimension dominant. The responsibility for this has been placed with the Commission, the actor which has, from the beginning, been most consistent in promoting economic objectives for culture. Having gained official competence to act on cultural issues with the Treaty of Maastricht, the cultural programmes and actions which followed in the mid 1990s have offered a tangible way of assessing the development of the EU’s cultural policy, casting light both on how the thematic conceptions of culture have evolved and what influences various actors have had on the justifications for cultural action. Research has shown that whilst Commission dominance and the ‘commodification’ of culture is a valid observation in the EU’s latest cultural programme, it has been a sudden rather than gradually developing change and is less applicable to the cultural actions, thus cannot be taken as reflective of the EU’s cultural policy as a whole.

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