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Where the snowman meets the sunshine: The tensions between research, engagement and impact in cultural policy

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Adam Behr



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


This article is a reflective piece on the context of a project that arose out of Knowledge Exchange (KE) work and how it became intertwined with a public debate about licensing in Edinburgh. It deals with the different contexts in which research reports and findings exist, and are used. The ‘snowman’ of the title refers to the research output – created within the realm of the academy, and guided by a concern for nuance and methodology. The ‘sunshine’ alludes to the heat of public debate and use by non-academic stakeholders with different priorities and practices. A discussion of the background to the project, and its roots in KE, moves onto an account of the licensing policy debate in Edinburgh, and my role in it. This is less an outline of the research itself than a consideration of the way in which the subsequent passage of its recommendations through public consultation and local policy forums revealed tensions in the processes of KE and engagement that fed into and emerged from it. I consider some of the issues surrounding negotiations between different ‘endusers’ of research – the multiple publics, with sometimes-divergent goals, to whom terms such as ‘impact’ and ‘Knowledge Exchange’ refer but who cannot always be engaged with equal ease. Finally, I reflect on the implications of these tensions more generally as KE and impact become increasingly embedded within academia’s institutional priorities.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Behr A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Participations: Journal of Audience and Reception Studies

Year: 2017

Volume: 14

Issue: 1

Pages: 352-375

Online publication date: 17/05/2017

Acceptance date: 27/04/2017

Date deposited: 16/05/2017

ISSN (electronic): 1749-8716

Publisher: University of Wales * Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies