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Presumption, policy and practice: the use of museums and galleries as agents of social inclusion in Great Britain

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Andrew Newman


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This article aims to analyse the basis for the construction of current policy designed to use museums and galleries as agents of social inclusion in Great Britain. It does this by first analysing their social role and their historical contribution to social policy. The article then goes on to present the findings of a research project that compared the rhetoric surrounding this issue with practice. It concludes that a series of issues are preventing the successful construction and implementation of policy. These are: a lack of policy coherence across different parts of the British Government; an inability to successfully measure social impact; a lack of institutional clarity about how to respond to policy guidance; and a lack of understanding about what constitutes social exclusion. The final and most significant difficulty is the lack of clarity about what can be expected from museums and galleries in this respect. The underlying question of how they function in society remains largely unanswered and means that policy is not based upon firm foundations.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Newman A, Mclean F

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Cultural Policy

Year: 2004

Volume: 10

Issue: 2

Pages: 167-181

ISSN (print): 1028-6632

ISSN (electronic): 1477-2833

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/1028663042000255790


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