9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN09 Economic Sociology

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 Marketization of Life Building AA, AA.228

Skybridge and Grounded Angel: European econo-culturescapes

The UK Audit Commission?s 2005 work on the evaluation of public investment in culture ? the ?Culture Block? ? ignored qualitative evaluation, even though this figured in their individual inspections, and in admired evaluation ?toolkits?. We might hope for methodological breakthroughs in the field of culture research comparable to the 1972 development of the statistical method of ?partial likelihood? in the health field. However, the signs are not propitious. The International Statistics Institute has little interest in applied research, and while the joint work of UNESCO, OECD and Eurostat did have a focus up to 2007 on international categories for cultural statistics, the current work programme is dominated by education statistics (although the OECD has developed Satellite Accounts for Culture).
Measurement technology for investigation of the value of cultural investment has not progressed. While this is the case, the qualitative paradigm represented by the intelligent intuitionism of Francois Matarasso combined with case study work into carefully chosen impact groups ? while theoretically and methodologically fragile ? has minimal competition in an area often categorised by economists under the heading of externalities.
Two case studies will examine these issues. The Viaduc de Millau (2004) in Southern France, on the A75 autoroute, known as La MĂ©ridienne, between Clermont-Ferrand and PĂ©zenas, was designed by Norman Foster and Partners. The Angel of the North (1998) in Gateshead, North East England, was made by Anthony Gormley. The former was designed to improve arterial links to and from Paris, with concern also for a potentially mixed impact on the prosperity of the Millau area. The latter was made to be a sign of past, present and future, ?witnessing and marking in time and space.? In surveying the work that French economists have done to assess the impact of Fosters ?bridge in the sky?, and the work that economists and cultural policy specialists have done to reflect upon the impact of Gateshead?s Angel, the economists? notion of externalities will come under critical scrutiny, as will the most recent paradigmatic socio-economic evaluation methodology, in the work done by the Impacts08 team during Liverpool?s year as European City of Culture.