Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Creating the good life? A wellbeing perspective on cultural value in rural development

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Frances Rowe, Professor Vee Pollock



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


In the last two decades academic and policy interest in the economic growth potential of the cultural sector has risen sharply in UK, as well as in other OECD countries. Alongside this there has been a shift in cultural policies away from a focus on the public value of culture to the economic value of creativity. Where public funds are allocated to arts and culture this is heavily and increasingly skewed towards London. Although there is wide recognition of the intrinsic value of the arts and the inequalities of provision, culture is increasingly invoked as a narrowly instrumental concept for other policy aims. The new discourses of creative economies have been slow to reach rural studies and where discussions of the ’creative countryside’ have taken place, notions of rural cultural value remain largely within an instrumentalist discourse. This paper is an attempt to shift the discussion to new ground by exploring cultural value through the lens of a social justice approach to wellbeing, based on the capabilities approach, using material from an AHRC funded year-long knowledge exchange project with rural arts organisations in Northumberland. The paper argues against the narrow instrumentalism of culture as a delivery mechanism for other policy agendas and offers a different conceptual framework based on social justice for considering the value of culture in conceptions of a ’good life’. It finds that using such an approach allows a different conceptual space and a clearer normative basis for understanding and arguing for the intrinsic value of culture in rural development.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Scott K, Rowe F, Pollock VL

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Rural Studies

Year: 2018

Volume: 59

Pages: 173-182

Print publication date: 01/04/2018

Online publication date: 27/08/2016

Acceptance date: 02/07/2016

Date deposited: 04/10/2016

ISSN (print): 0743-0167

ISSN (electronic): 1873-1392

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2016.07.001


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name