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The Value of Culture

The Value of Culture: On the Relationship between Economics and Arts

Edited by Arjo Klamer
Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 243
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  • Book Info
    The Value of Culture
    Book Description:

    Culture manifests itself in everything human, including the ordinary business of everyday life. Culture and art have their own value, but economic values are also constrained. Art sponsorships and subsidies suggest a value that exceeds market price. So what is the real value of culture? Unlike the usual focus on formal problems, which has 'de-cultured' and 'de-moralized' the practice of economics, this book brings together economists, philosophers, historians, political scientists and artists to try to sort out the value of culture. This is a book not only for economists and social scientists, but also for anybody actively involved in the world of the arts and culture. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0354-4
    Subjects: Economics, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Introduction to the Conversation
    (pp. 7-12)

    Culture does not appear to square with the economy. In particular, art does not mix well with money. When asked the question whether it matters what people are willing topayfor her art, the artist responds “To me? No, nothing. All that counts is that I can work.” And what if a work of hers would fetch IQ million dollars? “It never will” she insists, “but no, it would not make a difference.”” The artist prefers to keep the economy and whatever reminds her of it at bay and concentrate on her art. Many in the artistic community appear...

  4. 1 The Value of Culture
    (pp. 13-28)

    The topic of the value of culture is a strange one for an economist, since culture as a concept has been virtually banned from academic econorrucs. I have always been uncomfortable about that verdict. The culture of a group of people, as it is usually understood, stands for the values and beliefs the people share. So by banning culture from our conversations we economists deprive ourselves from any insight into the role that values play in the economy. That cannot be right.

    When we want to understand the strength of the Dutch economy, for example, we need to take into...


    • 2 The Value of Art: A Philosophical Perspective
      (pp. 31-43)

      In his inaugural speech “The value ofculture” (see chapter I) Ario Klamer set the tone for the discussion during the conference that led to this volume. After exploring the economic way of thinking, in which art and culture are valued exclusively in terms of commodity and measurement, Arjo Klamer expressed the need to correct the economists’ perspective. The conventional economists’ perspective is too single-minded and tends to devalue important distinctive features of art and culture. One important feature of art is itsambiguity:it represents problems of meaning without solving them. This essential ambiguity explains why aesthetic experience is an...

    • 3 The Value of Culture: A Dialogue between Barend van Heusden and Arjo Klamer
      (pp. 44-55)
      Barend van Heusden and Arjo Klamer

      Klamer ln the opening essay in this hook I have tried to deal with the concepts of culture and value. I had to because I wanted to see how I, as an economist, could come to an assessment of the value of culture. As was to he expected, my use of the terms have caused some confusion. Anton Van den Braembusschc has already pointed out philosophical grounds for caution in the use of “value”. What is your first response as a semiotician?

      Van HeusdenI agree that we need conceptual clarity. Take the term “culture”. What does it mean? I’d...

    • 4 “The Good, the Bad, and the Different”: Reflections on Economic and Aesthetic Value
      (pp. 56-74)

      Value is a discursive construct. At first glance, this assertion may not appear to be controversial, nor may it appear to be very fecund. Allow us, then, to state immediately some of the implications of this position. Perhaps by doing so we can indicate from the outset what difference, in terms of consequences and effects, such a position may make.

      Discourse versus the Ubiquity o{Value

      First, the discursiviry of value implies that value does not inhere, ubiquitously, III any ohjecr or life-world. Value has no universal ontological referent. Any event can be understood in terms of a value discourse -...


    • 5 The Value of Public Art as Public Culture
      (pp. 77-95)
      Joseph J. Cordes and ROBERT S. GOLDFARB

      This chapterisabout a particular subset of art, what we call “public art,” and how that art interacts with the broad culture of the society. By “public art,” we have In mmd art that is readily and easily available to “the public,” art for which public display or performance looms large. It includes sculpture on display in open, public places, music and dance performances open to the general public, art on display in museums open to the genera! public, and so forth. Such art is not only publicly displayed but also frequently relies on direct or indirect state subsidies...

    • 6 Market Value and Artists’ Earnings
      (pp. 96-107)

      “THE labour of opera singers and dancers is productive because it is valued, because it has specific importance for various “economic projects” The services of the opera singer are wealth. Economics deals with the pncing of these services, equally with the pricing of the services of a cook.” (Lionel Rohbins inAn Essay on the Nature and Significance ofEconomic Science2ndedition, 1935, pp 7 and 8, discussing Adam Smith on productive and unproductive Iabour.)

      Adarn Smith regarded “some both of the gravest and most Important, and some of the most frivolous professions: churchmen, lawyers, physicians, men of letters of...

    • 7 Big City, Great Art: A Myth about Art Production
      (pp. 108-121)

      In his inaugurallecture “The Valueof Culture”, Arjo Klamer presents a conceptual problem for economists and policy-makers with a professionalinterest in the arts (see chapter 1). Conceding that economists have much to say about the prices of theproductsof art, Klamer argues that theactivitiesandexperiencesthat are involved escape from the vocabulary economists routinely use. Economic concepts such as “price” are just not fit for the kind of activity art happens to be. Art has value, but as activity and expenence it is literally priceless.’ Those who confine their language to the standard economic vocabulary will be barred...

    • 8 The Value of Play
      (pp. 122-137)

      Through many of the contributions to this volume runs the notion that “the art world” has an existence and development apart from economic action. It is significant that the term used is artworld, not artsector. Aworld is something in itself, something with a self-generated border, while a sector IS a part of some larger entity. Art does generate products that can be recorded just like those of any other econormc sector. Still, many observers perceive art as a social form that has its own way of organizing itself. Marketable products are seen as spin-offs of that process, not...

    • 9 The Artistic Conscience and the Production of Value
      (pp. 138-148)

      The high value of art and culture is produced and continuously repro duced.’ The underlying forces in production, including its motivation, are the same as In other spheres of production. But the means of production differ. A peculiar artistic conscience emphasizes selflessness and compels the artist to overlook the economic value of what he or she produces. On second thought, however, we will show that the underlying forces are the same as elsewhere in economics. On the other hand a similar mechanism of denial of economic value may apply to much wider areas in economics.

      An Example: The PeculiarExchange between...


    • 10 Political Culture and the Economic Value of Citizenship: A French-Dutch Comparison in the Nineteenth Century
      (pp. 151-165)

      This Story is about two different cultural constructions of the economic value of citizenship in an era that constituted the melancholy afterglow of the French Revolution’s Intellectual fireworks. The ideal of the French revolutionaries was to entrench an entirely new model of civic equality. They hoped for the birth of a modern political culture that would embrace a set of economic, social, and political entitlements to be shared equitably by each and every citizen, paid for by collectivelyhome obligations. But the Protean visions of the makers of the Revolution, which they marched across the borders of the French nation and...

    • 11 The Value of National Identity
      (pp. 166-186)
      jas DE REUS

      The startrng point of this essay is my impression that the standard economic approach to national identity is a mess. It wobbles between the assumption of irrelevance of nationhood to rational hehavior of firms, families and governments and implicit nationalism (national income, national competitiveness, and so on); between reduction of national identification to maximization of wealth or welfare and non-economic explanation, and between seeing nations as bearers of modernization and as primitive, anti-capitalist forces. I think that this mess is unwarranted, smcc economic science in the sense of political economy contains the intellectual credentials and advanced tools of analysis to...

    • 12 Missing Ethics in Economics
      (pp. 187-202)
      Deirdre McCwskey

      !have gradually come to understand that culture matters for economics and for the economy. It was hard to learn, because I am a “neoclassical” economist, from the subschool of Chicago. Admitting culture Into econonucs has the problem of all revisions of an old way of thinking. Schopenhauer said, the new thought “forces its way as an enemy into the previously closed system of our own convictions, shatters the calm of mind we have attained through this system, demands renewed efforts of us and declares OUt former efforts to have been in vain” (l8SI [1970], number 19, p. 124). No wonder...


    • 13 The Value of Warhol
      (pp. 205-213)
      PETER Kattenberg

      "I'D Prefer to remain a mystery. I never like to give my background and, anyway, I make it all different all the time I’m asked. It’s not just that it’s part of my image not to tell everything, it’s just that I forget what I said the day before and I have to make it all up over and over again. I don’t think I have an image, anyway, favourable or unfavourable”.²

      Thus spoke Warhol, born August 6, 1928 in Pittsburgh, to Roman Catholic immigrant parents of (Ruthenian) Czechoslovakian stock, Andrej and ]ulia Warhola, about himself in 1964. That year...

    • 14 The Value of Making Art: A conversation with the artists Ronald Glasbergen, Liesbeth Bik and jeep Lieshout
      (pp. 214-222)

      KLAMER; Ronald, it seems that you argue [in a written contribution] that the value of art is in the nature of the beast, that the value is derived from the value of art as a distinctive activity. What does the price of a work of art say then about its value?

      Glasbergen:It is a historical question. Some time ago art was a form of craft and it was valued like that. For the ancient Greeks art was dearly something separate. That was especially the case for poetics. You could compare the status of modernThe Value ofMakingArtartto...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 223-237)
  10. Index
    (pp. 238-243)