Changing City Spaces

New challenges to cultural policy in Europe

Project summary

This proposal is concerned with contemporary social and cultural developments in Europe, set in motion by and responding to new dynamics of global migration into and across Europe. To explore these issues, our research takes as its central focus urban culture and policy in the European space, in order to address broader questions of sociocultural diversity, interaction and citizenship. The aim of the project is to examine a range of cultural institutions, practices and policies in diverse city environments (media, music and events, cinema), and to do so with respect to particular cultural industries and forms and their multiple audiences in metropolitan settings. In selecting seven capital cities with complex interconnections, the research will bring out the dynamics and directions of change in European society and culture in the 21st century. The over-arching aim is to articulate valid and workable principles of multicultural practice and policy, and to oppose xenophobia and racism


To address challenges to European culture in the context of contemporary change (enlargement; East/West Europe relations; imperial legacies; new transnational migrations) To do so through an analysis of European cities, regarded as spaces of multicultural identity, in the context of global change To map the internal complexities of selected European cities, drawing attention to the new kinds of social and cultural interaction and encounter now existing within these urban arenas To track the development of new kinds of networking between cities, taking the city as an innovative focus for capturing social and cultural flows and nexuses across, and beyond, the European space To understand how people construct a sense of belonging through involvement with particular cultural industries, forms and practices To explore policy responses relating to issues of urban multiculturalism within European cities, with particular respect to strategies for overcoming social exclusion, xenophobia and racism

Description of the work

We explore new social and cultural dynamics in Europe, with particular reference to migration, xenophobia and multiculturalism. We propose that an innovative way of addressing contemporary change in Europe is through a metropolitan perspective. Our research centres on seven cities - London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Vienna, Ljubljana, Belgrade. It addresses questions of multiculturalism within the urban space, and also the growth of new transnational flows and nexuses between cities. The empirical focus is on culture: new cultural practices, developments in cultural industries, the status of cultural policies. The data will come from in-depth qualitative research. This will be conducted within the selected cities, but also by tracking inter-urban nexuses across the system of European cities. The work has both 'bottom up' and 'top down' aspects. Thus, we are concerned with how people construct and mobilise their own cultural identities. This will involve consumption and reception studies with migrant groups (individual interviews, focus groups), as well as participant observation at cultural events. Through this we aim to establish what kinds of new identities are being constructed by migrant groups; the nature of contemporary cultural encounter and interaction; the significance of new transnational connections; new dynamics of social integration/social fragmentation. The 'top down' aspect of the work will explore the status of policy practices, with respect to the agenda of cultural inclusion and social integration within our cities, and to possibilities that may be inherent in inter-urban networking across Europe. This will involve in-depth 'expert' interviews (with media/cultural policymakers, executives, practitioners). Here we will be attentive to the correspondence, or lack of it, between cultural practices, industries and policies. Our findings will have relevance for policies that support social inclusion and integration for all people now living in Europe.

Milestones and expected results

Development of an innovative agenda on European cultural dynamics, bringing together usually discrete agendas, and providing insight into new (multi)cultural dynamics in Europe Collaboration with cultural policymakers, and input into the policy process with respect to issues of inclusion and social integration New approaches to good practice in cultural policy Cultural events promoting the findings of the research, bringing together practitioners, policymakers and researchers from diverse contexts

A project of the Fifth Framework Programme of the European Union.
Co-ordination: Prof. U. Meinhof, University of Southampton.