Paradoxical autonomy in cultural organisations: An analysis of changing relations between cultural organisations and their institutional environment, with examples from libraries, archives and museums

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This article analyses the changing relationships between cultural organisations and their institutional environment. Cultural policy research has traditionally focused on a decline in the autonomy of cultural organisations with Pierre Bourdieu’s theories as an overarching theoretical framework. However, recent studies of public administration tell another story. It shows how relationships between cultural organisations and their institutional environment are paradoxical. Cultural organisations have experienced a growing focus on societal value, users and performance indicators, which can be viewed as a decrease in their autonomy. Simultaneously, they have been able to pursue new ways of fulfilling their purpose, an increase in autonomy. The article discusses the theoretical perspectives on this paradox, with focus on New Public Governance, and shows that the paradox of autonomy entails a change in the roles of professionals, politicians and users. Politicians still determine subsidies, but they have increasingly left policymaking to the cultural organisations.
Translated title of the contributionparadoksal autonomi i kulturinstitutioner: En analyse af forandrede relationer mellem kulturinstitutioner og deres institutionelle omverden, med eksempler fra biblioteker, arkiver og museer
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe International Journal of Cultural Policy
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)636-649
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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