Rodríguez Morató, Arturo and Zarlenga, Matias I.: UNCHARTED: a European research project on the value of culture and the arts

In recent decades, with the growing emphasis on the creative economy, culture and the arts have tended to be increasingly seen in political circles under the exclusive lens of the economy and its contribution to it (Alexander, 2018; O’Brien, 2013). Other societal values of culture and the arts, including their intrinsic values, are relatively marginalized.

The research project UNCHARTED focuses on the valuation practices of the actors involved in cultural life in order to elaborate an alternative vision of the societal value of culture and the arts, characteristically heterarchical (Lamont, 2012).  UNCHARTED is a European research project funded by the H2020 program, which is running from the beginning of 2020 and will last until 2024. It is carried out by a consortium of ten partners, from Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, United Kingdom, Hungary and Norway, coordinated by Arturo Rodríguez Morató.

Three areas and three types of fundamental actors in the value dynamics of culture and the arts are distinguished: the field of cultural participation, in which citizenship is the protagonist; the field of cultural production and heritage, where the professionals of creation and preservation are the ones who take the initiative; and the field of cultural administration, in which it is the experts and politicians who decide. The project takes these three areas and this basic typology of actors as a starting point to structure the study of the different aspects involved in this evaluative dynamic. Based on pragmatist approaches to value, mostly developed in economic sociology, the sociology of evaluation and organization studies, UNCHARTED follows a processual logic of inquiry involving an extensive empirical research. Three successive key moments in this dynamic are examined in this respect: the emergence of values, the configuration of a value order and the political impulse of values in the cultural realm. This empirical research process is preceded by a previous stage of macro-sociological inquiry on the general determinants of the configuration of values attached to culture and the arts based on previous literature and available data.