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Investing creatively in sustainability: cultural capital - the new growth stock of sustainable development

Rhodes, Alix (2004) Investing creatively in sustainability: cultural capital - the new growth stock of sustainable development. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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Sustainability is about ensuring that current and future generations have equal access to resources and a quality of life that provides long-term economic security at the same time as safeguarding the natural and cultural environment. Using a process of sustainable development (SD) it is possible to formulate management tools and planning strategies to change and direct industrial or human activities that are contrary to sustainability. SD requires unified responses to guide this process through a new set of customs and practice, and achieve acceptance and changes in the behavior and actions of individuals and organisations. The outcomes of SD will be determined by the human response to sustainability, which is in part a cultural response.

Culture has a duality of meaning in every day use. It is either the value system that shapes the aspirations, identity and attitudes of individuals and groups; or the 'way of life' for a particular group of people who are drawn together through customs, religion, language, arts, science or technology. Culture has principles in common with sustainability by bestowing upon current generations cultural heritage and identity, as well as responsibility for safeguarding future cultural diversity and ecological balance. This thesis suggests that cultural values are a key to sustainability and that deliberate strategies and criteria are needed for the arts and creative industries to assist SD. The idea that culture is central to SD is based on the fact that sustainability is a concept whereas culture is a human value system and a way of life.

Using the concept of 'cultural capital', this thesis identifies a framework that can guide and report both the tangible economic and physical outcomes and the intangible benefits that occur through artistic and cultural activity. Tangible outcomes include artists, buildings and creative products while intangible benefits lead to cultural identity, diversity and a sense of place. It is then suggested that if a framework based on cultural capital were applied to SD, such a process would be called 'culturally' sustainable development. The idea of culturally sustainable development (CSD) is explored in academic and business literature, and in the practical examples of existing action found in the Western Australian arts and cultural community.

Based on this intelligence, strategies are identified to provide the next steps for developing the concept and practice of CSD. Strategies call for government, business and the arts to have equal responsibility for mainstreaming the concepts of CSD and cultural capital, and encourage CSD activities and projects. At the implementation level, strategies focus on developing a universal framework for CSD, incorporating Creative Action Plans or creative business plans, along with a CSD Index, and a creative cluster approach to project management or industry development. CSD is about investing creatively in sustainability through cultural capital, the new growth stock of SD.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy
Supervisor(s): Newman, Peter
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