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It would be less worrying if AHRC were to acknowledge coersion, as the seemingly interchangable government-facing euphemisms of 'connected communities', 'creative economy', 'communities and civic values', 'enhancing our quality of life', are not the intangible effects of pixie dust either...:

Evaluating the social impact of participation in arts activities: A critical review of François Matarasso’s 'Use or Ornament?’
Paola Merli, Variant, issue 19, Spring 2004
"…In the first part of this paper I will concentrate on analysing the quality of Matarasso's research. My critique will focus on methodological issues and will try to show that the research project is flawed in its design, execution and conceptual basis. I will then deal with political issues such as whether using participatory arts as a form of governance, under the heading of promoting social cohesion, is actually worthwhile and desirable. Finally, I will frame some suggestions for possible future research."
http://www.variant.org.uk/19texts/socinc19.html

On bullshit in cultural policy practice & research
Eleonora Belfiore, International Journal of Cultural Policy, Volume 15, Issue 3, August 2009
Taking Harry G. Frankfurt's essay 'On Bullshit ' as its starting point, Belfiore explores the analysis of bullshit and the prevalence of bullshitting in the contemporary public sphere. Frankfurt's short essay provides an intellectual framework to interpret and understand contemporary rhetoric and practice in the cultural policy field, as well as recent trends in cultural policy research. Through a discussion of selected UK cultural policy documents, the article aims to show that many of the key actors in the cultural policy debate indeed display the 'indifference to how things really are' and the cultivation of vested interests which Frankfurt attributes to the activity of bullshitting. In conclusion, Belfiore spells out the implications of the present status quo for 'critical' cultural policy research.
PDF: http://www.informaworld.com/index/914860742.pdf

All best,
Leigh



On 28 Mar 2011, at 17:31, Simon Biggs wrote:

> Here's the AHRC's official statement on the Observer piece published
> yesterday. They refute it in full.
> 
> Best
> 
> Simon
> 
> Simon Biggs
> [log in to unmask]
> http://www.littlepig.org.uk/
> 
> [log in to unmask]
> http://www.elmcip.net/
> http://www.eca.ac.uk/circle/
> 
> ------ Forwarded Message
> 
> Important Statement
> 
> The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) unconditionally and
> absolutely refutes the allegations reported in the Observer ('Academic Fury
> over order to study the big society', 27 March). We did NOT receive our
> funding settlement on condition that we supported the 'Big Society', and we
> were NOT instructed, pressured or otherwise coerced by BIS or anyone else
> into support for this initiative.
> 
> The AHRC has been working for over two years, since 2008, with four other
> research councils, on the Connected Communities Research Programme which has
> been developed through extensive - and continuing - consultation with
> researchers. At the core of this Programme is research to understand the
> changing nature of communities in their historical and cultural contexts,
> and the value of communities in sustaining and enhancing our quality of
> life. These issues are serious and of major concern. They also happen to be
> relevant to debates about the 'Big Society' which came two years later. To
> imply that these important areas for investigation constitute a
> government-directed research programme is false.
> 
> There are further inaccuracies in the Observer article that rest on rumour
> and misrepresentation.
> 
> First, specific research applications are funded on the basis of academic
> peer review, not government command. If academic peer reviewers do not feel
> the research is excellent, and of sufficient importance and value for money,
> it does not get funded.
> 
> Second, the Observer article implies that 'significant' funding will be put
> exclusively into 'Big Society' projects. What the document quoted actually
> says is that 'significant' funding will be put into SIX (not one) 'strategic
> research areas'. These are language-based disciplines, the creative economy,
> interdisciplinary collaborations, and cultural heritage as well as issues
> related to communities and civic values. This will occur as part of an
> extensive portfolio of funding covering many different types of research
> which, once again, was developed through extensive consultation with
> researchers over a two year period.
> 
> Third, it is reported that the AHRC 'was forced to accept the change by
> officials working for the minister for higher education, David Willetts.'
> There is a confusing subsidiary allegation that 'the word is that it has
> come down from the secretary of state, Vince Cable'. Neither is true. If
> there is evidence to demonstrate these allegations (as distinct from relying
> on phrases like 'the word is') then it should be revealed. But there is no
> such evidence because it did not happen.
> 
> ------ End of Forwarded Message
> 
> 
> Simon Biggs
> [log in to unmask]
> http://www.littlepig.org.uk/
> 
> [log in to unmask]
> http://www.elmcip.net/
> http://www.eca.ac.uk/circle/


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