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Cultural services and social policy: exploring policy makers' perceptions of culture and social inclusion

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In post-devolution Scotland, New Labour added to the role of 'culture' by introducing ideas of social inclusion to policies concerning cultural services. Ten years later, with the Scottish National Party (SNP) minority government in the Scottish Parliament, do policy makers think social inclusion still has a role within cultural services? This article shows that policy makers' understandings of 'culture' and social inclusion are vague, general and complex. This has encouraged policy makers to think of cultural services as resources to fulfil wider economic and social objectives. At the same time, cultural services are placed at an individual level, with cultural services seen as 'generators of wellbeing', rather than agents of social change. Social inclusion and cultural meanings are linked to individualistic causes of poverty and related to the SNP's economic focus in Scotland. This complexity impacts on the interpretation and implementation of policy and has resulted in the cultural agenda being seen as less of a priority within the new SNP administration.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 2010

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