Cultural diversity

Publications and Studies

"L'exception culturelle - Une règle en quête de contenus"

Jean-Michel BAER, dans la revue EN TEMPS RÉEL, numéro 11, octobre 2003 - 2003/10

In this text, former Director of Culture and Audiovisual Policy at the European Commission, Jean-Michel Baer, emphasizes that UNESCO’s recent decision “to begin drafting an international political instrument capable of protecting and promoting cultural diversity” conveys to what extent “culture has become an issue in world politics.” He suggests that the first challenge of cultural diversity is to “recognize that culture is a good that is not simply commercial.” According to Baer, “addressing this challenge no longer makes sense except on a international level. However, once such recognition has been achieved, which is not yet the case, it is natural to then address the content of diversity.” In the text, the author stresses three facets of the issue: demonstrating how the question of cultural diversity “has developed politically in Europe … against an American vision that is very clearly opposed to the concept”; supporting the reason why the protection of cultural diversity has never solidified, which according to him, can be attributed to the development of technology and power that creates a state where “the relationship between the market and culture is constantly being renegotiated”; and outlining what will be “the real issue of cultural diversity: content.” With respect to this, he emphasizes specifically that slowing down the conglomeration of cultural offerings, dealing with cultural diversity in Europe by qualified majority, and promoting global distribution of cultural works “are goals without which diversity runs the risk of becoming a generic concept, all the more since it would lack content,” because even if “it is more or less clear what the protection of cultural diversity seeks to prohibit,” there is still the question of “what such a policy seeks and is able to promote.” (Available in French only)