Description of project:
In my doctoral dissertation I am exploring how culture and art are being valued in the contemporary Finnish society. I will do this by examining public debates concerning culture and art that have been going on during this decade. In order to study the valuations made in these discussions, I have formed two research questions:
1) Through what kind of discourses are culture and art valuated in the public discussions concerning them, and how is their value constructed in these discourses?
2) What do these valuations tell about the context, the different kind of (power) relations, in which and by which they have been articulated?
The value of culture and art have always been connected to the overall stage of the society and the crises and tendencies in it. To understand these relations in my research, I am using the concept of conjuncture. According to Stuart Hall, the concept refers to a certain period of time in which different social, political, economic and ideological forces come together, form crises and shape the society. In other words, the concept stresses that historical moments are shaped by diverse relations and forces that can be contradictory.
It helps us to understand a certain moment in history as a complex set of contexts, circumstances, relations and tensions that have an impact on how things are and evolve. Conjuncture can be thought as a certain kind of context and doing conjunctural analysis means studying the context(s).
Regarding my own research, I see conjunctures as contexts or sets of contexts that make some valuations of culture and art possible and understandable right now and some other not. Hence, these contexts are the main interest and subject of my research. The idea of a conjuncture and conjunctural analysis also emphasize the relations between the different spheres of society which are often imagined as separate and independent, like culture, politics and economy. Regarding this, in my analysis I examine the categories constructed in the discussions with a critical approach in order to consider some more fruitful ways of understanding the society and the relations that form it.
Kaisa Murtoniemi is a PhD student and guest researcher from Tampere University.