9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN02 Sociology of the Arts

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Artistic Policy Building II, C6.07

Forging Familiar Paths - Cast of Finnish art policy

My paper explores the institutionalization of Finnish (state's) art policy and, in this frame, the promotion of Finnishness by the means of art. I pay particular attention to the politicizing and politicking aspects, and, therefore, to the role of (public) intellectuals in defining and refining the normative and teleological aspects embedded in the constellation of the national art policy and its instruments. With reference to the concept of path dependence, I trace a starting point for my analysis back to the 19th century, but pay particular attention to the situation during the 1920s and 1930s, when first instruments for public art policy were normalized. Many still existing instruments of art policy have their origins in the period in question here.

The processes of maintenance and modification of once chosen policy lines, in short, are interesting questions for my research. I show some crucial points of interconnectedness between formal organisations and less formal communities with an expertise and interest in art and art policy. In addition, I analyse the characteristics of the image of national culture that the intellectuals (re)produced through their actions, taken in the expertise positions they held. Hence, I shed light on 1) the actions taken in the (both, formal and less formal) expert positions, 2) the control mechanisms used in guarding the formal expert positions, 3) criteria used in identifying artistic quality, 4) the justifications of national cultural policy, and, finally 5) the significance of the intellectuals in securing / challenging given policy lines. My viewpoint assumes a close relation between power and production of culture.

I base my analysis on reading of primary sources, both from archives and from printed materials. As a result of my analysis, by and large, I attempt 1) to explain the degree of path dependence in the development of Finnish art policy (before the WW II), 2) to understand theoretically the shaping of institutional formations, and 3) to clarify the relation between nationalism and formation of cultural policy in Finland.