Understanding culture-led local development: A critique of alternative theoretical explanations

In this paper we carry out a meta-analytic review of the literature on culture-led local development models.We identify and discuss three typical fallacies characterising mono-causal culture-led development schemes: instrumentalism, over-engineering, and parochialism. We then discuss their analytical background, and provide examples illustrating the consequences of each. Based upon this critical discussion, we make a case for a ‘new territorial thinking’ approach that takes into account the tangled hierarchy of global and local viewpoints that is connatural to spatially situated cultural production, and focuses upon a non-linear, multi-causal scheme as the only possible framework for the policy design of credible, socially accountable, culture-led development strategies.

Article by Pierluigi Sacco, Guido Ferilli and Giorgio Tavano Blessi
Published in Urban Studies 2014, Vol. 51(13) 2806–2821

From the Conclusions (excerpt)
(…) Culture-led development essentially means creating the social and economic conditions for enabling culture to perform all of these delicate and extremely valuable roles effectively and sustainably, through a proper strategic coordination with the whole local economy and community.
This is a formidable challenge and tackling it goes beyond the scope of the present paper. In Sacco et al. (2013b), we apply such a framework to some recent case studies of culture-led development in order to demonstrate how the typical fallacies of mono-causal schemes can be overcome through a more comprehensive approach. We look forward to more attempts at fleshing out a ‘new territorial thinking’ in culture-led development, a promising, difficult and somewhat necessary perspective for future research in the field.(…).

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