Within cultural industries, goods and services are largely symbolic. They are based around the communication of ideas, rather than functional value.
Activities that produce films are part of the cultural industries. Those such as fashion design, advertising and architecture, where there is symbolic content, but where functionality comes first, are not considered to be part of the cultural industries, but are part of the wider creative industries.
So what is culture’s relationship to value, and the consumer market? There is a long-standing debate about culture as a public good, and the uplifting role of art and its civilising effect on society. Does treating creative cultural production as a commodity allow business and management to encroach on cultural life? Culture does produce value.
David Throsby (2001) presented a definition incorporating the issue of ‘use value’. This brought in consideration of both the economic and cultural sides of the cultural industries. He argues that:
- the activities of the cultural industries involve some form of creativity in their production
- the cultural industries are concerned with the generation and communication of symbolic meaning
- their output includes some form of intellectual property.
Individual productions achieve this to varying extents, but these industries should properly be defined within the cultural sector because generating and communicating meaning is the main output of each.
Economic production is also the production of value. As the practices of business and markets take hold, might the non-financial value of ‘culture’ and ‘art’ be lost?
© The Open University (2015)