From Recommendations to Practices

Cultural Participation, Expert Interpretations and Policy Processes



Cultural participation, cultural services and activities have engaged increasing attention in society. The various national, regional and municipal strategies and action plans suggest cultural activity and participation as chances to add both competitiveness and well-being in communities.

This research project focuses on the issues that emerge where policy objectives and suggested measures typically end up with: connections to actors and structures are often vague in policy recommendation documents. Thus, the plans often lack from the picture political and practical actors, the interests that they intermediate, the power relations between them, and the actor coalitions along with the contradictions and compromises that go within.

In this research we analyse, first of all, how the different recommendations that call for cultural participation and better access to cultural activities could take form as practices. We use as our research data the policy documents produced by the different ministries in Finland. In the documents we search for the objectives that are linked to cultural participation and the measures that are suggested in order to achieve the goals. Based on the use of policy documents as research data we apply the method of strategy map to illustrate the general objective to increase participation and access to cultural activities. This is the starting point for our interviews with selected decision makers and administrators.

Secondly, we examine relevant expert knowledge related on the matter by looking into recent research texts and by interviewing academics and experts in universities and research institutions. This expert knowledge is recognised as institutionalised information about the meanings of cultural participation, about how it could be promoted and what hinders it. As this expertise that bases on different disciplines is often referred to in policy documents, we bring the specified scholarship together with the analysed policy documents. This offers a new and interesting viewpoint to critically scrutinise the interpretations concerning cultural participation both in research and in policy programmes. In addition, we take international comparison, which is typically used in creating expert knowledge, into account and look into experiences on cultural participation and services in Sweden and Germany.

This investigation builds on the previous KUULTO research project conducted at the Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy at the University of Jyväskylä. The KUULTO project drew on the many research results and statistics that indicated the differentiation and inequality development in municipal and regional cultural services. An action research based initiative, the KUULTO project developed and tested various local solutions to strengthen and increase cultural participation in municipalities of different kinds.


Research Group:
Post-Doctoral Researcher, Dr Eliza Kraatari, eliza.kraatari(a)jyu.fi, 040 805 4495
Professor Emerita of Cultural Policy, Dr Anita Kangas, anita.kangas(a)jyu.fi, 050 345 4045
PhD Candidate, Vappu Renko (MSSc, MA)