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Cultural policies and social order (1968–2018)

Politiques culturelles et ordre social (1968–2018)

Ethics, disparities, eventualities

Morales, écarts, possibles

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Published on Monday, May 28, 2018


On this fiftieth anniversary of the “Déclaration de Villeurbanne”, a founding, committed and ambiguous text, the conference focuses on the politicization of culture since the breaking point of 1968. The evolution of the frameworks of cultural action, and the way it shows (or hides) the relationship between politics and culture, will be analyzed in three directions: the specialization of the protagonists of culture (professionals, artists, public); the territorialization of culture (between the exhaustion of national cultural policies, internationalization, and the rise of urban issues); and the institutional and organizational frames of cultural activity (their binding nature, and their interstices).


12 to 14 December 2018, in Lyon and Villeurbanne

Lyon Public Library collection, Photographers from the Rhône-Alpes region, Creative Commons


For this fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Villeurbanne – a political and ambiguous founding document – the symposium will be focusing on the politicization of culture, taking 1968 as the turning point. The shifting benchmarks for cultural action and the way they refer to (or keep quiet about) the relationship between politics and culture will be examined along three lines of inquiry: specialization of the cultural protagonists (i.e. operators, artists and the public); the territorialization of culture (between the loss of impetus of national cultural policies, internationalization and the rise of urbanization); and the institutional and organizational frameworks for cultural activities (their restrictive nature and interstices).

A multidisciplinary and collective debate over changes to cultural policies will lead to the production of a white paper on the current state of relations between cultural initiatives and political ethics.

In May 1968, a French national forum for culture was held at the Théâtre de la Cité de Villeurbanne, with Roger Planchon and Francis Jeanson at the forefront: a landmark manifesto was drafted, entitled Déclaration de Villeurbanne. Lyrical and forward-looking, the Declaration was the creation of a collective authority made up of twenty-three directors of popular theaters and cultural centers. Together, they supported a plan to break with the past as well as gain power, while describing a fragmented public arena – in short, a sort of political ethic. The document was destined for a special fate, both as a focal point and a variable point in political discourse on culture and the social role of art, especially regarding the theater (Delhalle 2006, 2017).

The Declaration is still used today, though ambiguous and prone to varying interpretation, helping us reflect on the continuities and breaks that influence contemporary cultural practices, policies and productions. Yet if we are to look critically at current affairs in the art world and cultural initiatives, we need to do away with meaningless categorizations and begin working together to denaturalize lingering, resistant language and practices that in a variety of ways declare democratization, emancipation and the alternative. Other themes may provide food for thought: the concept of risk, for example (what about involvement today or the conformism of cultural actors?) ; the issue of globalization (what about the internationalization of practices and the rise of local?) ; or the very process of politicization (what about culture’s political role in the face of economic arguments?).

Much research has been conducted on these topics in multiple fields of knowledge: theater studies, information and communication technology, sociology, history, political science, etc.In keeping with this research, the symposium is open to contributions from a variety of disciplines within the humanities and social sciences. These contributions will take a critical, problem-focused look at cultural policies, productions and/or practices, regardless of the artistic or cultural sector in question (performing arts, circus arts, heritage, books, etc.). They will fall within one or several of the three focus areas presented below.

  1. Public, operators, artists: protagonists on the path to specialization

If the word culture can still be taken seriously, it is insofar as it implies the demand for an effective intervention tending to modify current relations between people, and consequently, for an active investigation going from individual to individual, and seeking to take everyone into account – in other words, in the end, an authentic form of cultural action (Declaration of Villeurbanne).

The fact nevertheless remains that the ways in which this basic orientation will be put into practice must be defined in close consultation with those concerned, that is: firstly with the staff of our respective enterprises, and secondly with the different sections of the population, the “non-public” (through intermediaries of all kinds who, by going from one individual to the next, allow us to reach them), students, and the public we have already established (Declaration of Villeurbanne).


Fifty years after the Declaration, France has around 250 master’s level courses in “cultural management”, “cultural development”, “cultural engineering”, etc. While the names of the courses may change, in line with changes in ideologies of cultural action (masters in “cultural entrepreneurship” have been appearing over the last few years), they all relate to a single movement that involves qualifying, specializing and professionalizing the actors of the world of culture. These fall into three categories: “staff of our respective enterprises”, in other words cultural “operators”; artists; and audiences (or the public). In this trilogy, by building themselves a social, professional, or political position, each category of actors makes a statement about their relationship to the two others. Joëlle Le Marec, for example, clearly demonstrated how changes to the training of museum visitor experience managers, and the arrival of people with a marketing background in these departments in particular, have contributed to creating an image of the public as the target of supposedly effective communication (Le Marec, 2007).

On a different note, the legal, economic and political statuses of creators are changing. Amongst others, instrumental conceptions are under development that make artists archetypes or pathfinders for contemporary forms of work (Menger, 2005) in a society where creativity is promoted as a source of value and “individuals”, instead of the “public”, are all potentially creative. In the end, the recipients of cultural action are constantly being (re)qualified by research in social sciences, as well as by political discourse and cultural actors. From the notion of “non-public”, which appears in the Declaration as a standard to be followed, to that of “population” expressed by Catherine Trautmann in 1998 in the French public service mission statement for the performing arts, and the euphemized notions of “publics spécifiques” [specific audiences], “public du champ social” [audiences of social concern], “public empêché” [inhibited audiences], and “public éloigné” [remote audiences], these categories reflect intense work to specialize the relationship between artworks and their social appropriation, while continuing to produce dismissals, disagreements and paradoxes (Ghebaur, 2014; Rancière, 2008).

This topic area will involve reflecting on the trajectories of actors in cultural affairs, the processes of category specialization and the effects of these forms of professionalization. The complex movements covered by these terms call for an examination of the new configurations of authority in cultural matters, but also its filiation, both direct and indirect, and particularly the role of cultural public policy in the updating of benchmarks and frameworks of cultural action in the context of “innovation”.

  1. Regions and places: geographical and symbolic issues

The directors of popular theaters and cultural centers [...] protest against the unjustifiable disparities prevailing both among the subsidies given to the diverse national institutions based in Paris, and between these subsidies and those given to equivalent institutions in the suburbs and provinces, as such disparities call into question the very idea of decentralization (Declaration of Villeurbanne)

Cultural actors are faced with the rise of urbanization and loss of impetus of national cultural policies, in terms of artistic production and cultural dissemination alike. This is reflected in the issue of cultural municipalization from the 1970s, as shown in the Rencontres d’Avignon held from 1964 to 1970 chaired by Jean Vilar, with themes like “Cultural policy in cities” (1967) and “Cultural policy in seven cities” (1969).

Some key terms or concepts thus became essential to the construction and depiction of professional identities and cultural activities: “Cultural democratization”, “regional planning”, “ecological transition”, “cultural development”, “Agenda 21 for culture”, among others. These labels, some of whose origins date back to the 1960s, echo those that are now firmly established in describing new urban dynamics and cultural policies: “Global city”, “Intercultural city”, “Creative cluster” and “Participatory city”. But these terms also cause tensions: dismissed by cultural actors, imposed by the State or demanded by local authorities, they reveal the balance of power between actors of cultural action since 1970.

This topic area will involve identifying new intervention methods and the positioning of actors, not just with a globalized, generic approach and rationale in the current context of internationalization and industrialization of the artistic and cultural sectors, but also in their territorialization(s).

  1. Formal frameworks and leading figures in cultural action: (re)forms, pathways and omissions

For Jacques Rancière (2004), politics is the moment you begin to account for the uncounted, in other words entering instituting frameworks, classifications and concepts, correct expressions, to turn them into criticisms (Farge, 1992). By which mechanisms and via which pathways through time and space do cultural policies form the place of cultural politicization, or is it the opposite, do they hinder it?

The document Declaration of Villeurbanne – far from being smooth and consistent – leaves room for multiple interpretations that echo the not always compatible positions of those who produced it. This constitutive ambivalence has not hindered the widespread distribution of the document and (some of) its proposals. Some statements taken from the Declaration stand out and circulate like “formulas” (Krieg- Planque, 2009), gradually relieving the text of its local anchorage and political force in favor of rhetoric and stories whose origins have been forgotten. But at the same time, the text is mentioned regularly and referred to as a foundational moment (Schlanger, 1992) that reiterated or reconstructed origins and filiation.

This topic area will involve considering the materiality of pathways that shape and influence cultural practices, policies and productions, between political lines and programs suggested “from above” and grassroots interactions, and between long-term discussions and occasional meetings. These pathways form through quotes, repetitions or more or less faithful and explicit reinterpretations, which may benefit from discourse analysis. They also form through sorts of practice framing and schemes and models that discretely insinuate themselves into cultural action: for example, the overrating of quantitative indicators in assessment processes for cultural projects; project management tools like the “logical framework matrix"; or program procedures funded by the European Union (Creative Europe for transnational cultural projects or Erasmus + for artist mobility).

Submission requirements

Proposals are to be uploaded in pdf format to the platform: policult68.sciencesconf.org/

Proposals must comprise: a title (in French and English), an abstract (in French or English) of 7,000 characters including spaces (Times 12 pt), mentioning the issue, scope of the investigation, methodology and main conclusions drawn. A few bibliographical references should also be added, together with five keywords.

Proposal submission deadline: July 15, 2018 at 12 p.m.

Notice to authors: September 15, 2018

All proposals will undergo double-blind assessment by an international scientific committee.

Scientific Committee

  • Anouk Bélanger (Université du Québec à Montréal) Julia Bonaccorsi (Université Lyon 2)
  • Jacques Bonniel (Centre Max Weber, UniversitéLyon 2)
  • Sarah Cordonnier (Université Lyon 2)
  • Jean Davallon (Université d’Avignon et des Pays du Vaucluse)
  • Damien Darcis (University of Mons) Nancy Delhalle (University of Liège)
  • Milena Dragicevic Secic (University of Arts in Belgrade) Isabelle Garcin-Marrou (Sciences Po Lyon)
  • Bérénice Hamidi-Kim (UniversitéLyon 2)
  • Jeremy Hamers (University of Liège) Yves Jeanneret (Sorbonne University) Camille Jutant (Université Lyon 2)
  • Visnja Kisic (University of Arts in Belgrade)
  • Michel Kneubhüler (Comité d’Histoire du Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication)
  • Joëlle Le Marec (Sorbonne University)
  • Jason Luckerhoff (Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières) Katharina Niemeyer (Université du Québec à Montréal) François Provenzano (University of Liège)
  • Guy Saez (CNRS, PACTE)
  • Cécile Tardy (Université de Lille)
  • Goran Tomka (University of Tourism of Novi Sad) Daniel Urrutiaguer (Université Lyon 2)

Symposium Organization Committee

  • Julia Bonaccorsi (ELICO, Université Lyon 2) Jacques Bonniel (Centre Max Weber,Lyon 2)
  • Sarah Cordonnier (ELICO, Université Lyon 2) Camille Jutant (ELICO, Université Lyon 2)
  • Michel Kneubhüler (Comité d’Histoire du Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication)

Information: policult68@sciencesconf.org

Venues for the symposium: Université Lumière Lyon 2 and Théâtre National Populaire, Villeurbanne


Bonaccorsi Julia, “The Role of the Term Non-public in Ordering Cultural Initiatives: Analysis of the Modalities of the Term Non-public in Public Sector Literacy Initiatives”, in Looking For Non-publics, Luckerhoff Jason, Jacobi Daniel (dir.), Presses de l’Université du Québec, 2012, p. 7-26

Delhalle Nancy, Vers un Théâtre Politique, Le Cri, Bruxelles, 2006

Delhalle Nancy, Théâtre dans la mondialisation. Communauté et utopie sur les scènes contemporaines, PUL, Lyon, 2017

Farge Arlette Dire et mal dire. L'opinion publique au XVIIIesiècle. Le Seuil, Paris, 2013.

Ghebaur Cosmina, “C’est pas pour nous normalement”. La médiation culturelle et les non-publics”,

Tumultes, 42, 2014

Jeanson Francis, “La Réunion de Villeurbanne”, in La Décentralisation Théâtrale, 2., Les Années Malraux, 1959-1968, Actes-Sud Papiers, coll. Théâtre, éducation, cahiers n° 6, Arles, 1993

Krieg-Planque Alice, La notion de ‘formule’ en analyse du discours: Cadre théorique et méthodologique, Presses Universitaires de Franche-Comté, Besançon, 2009

Le Marec Joëlle, Publics et musées: La confiance éprouvée, L’Harmattan, Paris, 2007

Madral Philippe, Le théâtre hors les murs. Six animateurs et trois élus municipaux nous parlent, Seuil Coll. Théâtre, 1969

Menger Pierre-Michel, Profession artiste. Extension du domaine de la création, Textuel, Paris, 2005 Rancière Jacques, Aux bords du politique, Gallimard, Paris, 2004

Rancière Jacques, Le spectateur émancipé, La Fabrique, Paris, 2008

Schlanger Judith, “Fondation, nouveauté, limite, mémoire”, Communications n° 54, 1992, p. 289-298 Saez Guy, “L’être collectif du peuple à l’épreuve du projet d’un théâtre national populaire de Wagner”, SociologieS, 2017


  • Université Lumière Lyon 2, Théâtre National Populaire de Villeurbanne
    Lyon, France (69)


  • Sunday, July 15, 2018


  • moral, ordre social, politique culturelle

Information source

  • Sarah Cordonnier
    courriel : sarah [dot] cordonnier [at] univ-lyon2 [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Cultural policies and social order (1968–2018) », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, May 28, 2018, https://calenda.org/442418

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