Cultural diversity

Publications and Studies

« Menaces sur la diversité culturelle : une lutte d'exception »

The latest issue of the French review, Mouvements is entirely devoted to cultural diversity, particularly the threats it currently faces. In an article published in the journal Politis, Mr. Dominique Sagot-Duvauroux, professor of economy at the University of Angers, in France, an expert on cultural issues and one of the initiators, with Jacques Hoarau and Michel Maric, of a special report entitled, « Menaces sur la diversité culturelle » explains the challenge of this issue: "We wanted this report to provide food for thought to the debate currently underway at UNESCO around the Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions, which is expected to be voted on by Member States before the end of the year. The purpose of the convention is to move beyond mere declarations of intention and achieve a truly legal text, which can stand up to new negotiations on the liberalization of services taking place within the world trade Organization and which is expected to be completed in early 2006. We should add that the controversy over the Bolkestein directive on services makes this report particularly timely."

In presenting the structure of the report, Mr. Sagot-Duvauroux explains : " In the first section, some analytical articles examine what is covered by the concept of cultural diversity and the ambiguities that the term conceals. This is the case for the strictly economic point of view, with Françoise Benhamou, or the anthropological point of view, with Stéphane Vibert. The second part of the report presents the actions of key players that support this diversity. It then discusses an expanded definition of cultural diversity, which is defended by Pascal Rogard, the general manager of la Société des auteurs et compositeurs dramatiques (SACD), and which accuses the United States of wanting to drown the concept in its anthropological dimensions, thus stripping it of its meaning from an operational standpoint. We also wanted to show that the standardization of culture was not inevitable."

According to the author, cultural diversity is holding its own at every level, internationally and locally, by conquering new areas between the market and institutions. Relaunching the debate on free "peer to peer" music file sharing, and particularly its relevance to cultural diversity, the author notes that next to markets and institutions, new increasingly autonomous areas are being created and exciting democratic trends are beginning. He stresses that "peer to peer" file sharing is one such initiative that demonstrates that trade can develop without the involvement of public powers or markets. Of course, taking into account the technological development of these initiatives, the question of financing creation remains." Given the scope of this phenomenon, he encourages public entities to get involved. "The fact that we could have free access to cultural content, including in poor countries is fantastic in itself. Obviously, this calls into question public policies aimed at the democratization of culture. How can they go against each other without appearing to contradict one other? This is the major focus of thinking regarding cultural policy today. We need to reconcile how society can benefit from the free distribution of culture with the need to obtain payment for artists, editors and producers, which will not necessarily come from through copyrights, but through subsidies, legal licences and mechanisms to be invented." [05-05]