Recently by Steven J Tepper

Andrew Taylor might be right that our best step might be to avoid trying to craft the perfect language.  Andras is also right that language alone won't change behavior, especially the behavior of those in power.  

Expressive life is not just a framework for talking; it is framework for thinking and for action (which I believe is the challenge Marian Godfrey sets out for us in her post).  

 I am compelled by Bill's simple formulation:

"Will policy x enhance the expressive lives of individuals and communities by making heritage and the tools of creativity more available, or will the policy increase costs, erect barriers, or limit access?"  Costs, barriers, access.   In some ways, what expressive life recaptures is a more robust notion of "freedom of expression."  Rather than think narrowly about how our freedoms are constricted by the authoritarian force of government and censorship, we should consider all of the ways in which corporations, government, and nonprofit institutions restrict the freedom of ideas to flow between citizens.  

 Costs, barriers, access.  This formulation does indeed broaden the frame and it clarifies who the allies are - it is not slow food advocates (as much as I like their cause and feel their goals are sympathetic to a vibrant expressive life), but rather media reform, free expression, localism, media literacy, IP, etc.  In fact, I think nonprofits can regain their status if they defend themselves as critical institutions for generating access to and exchange of ideas for and between citizens (especially in light of Adrian's late capitalism - which runs roughshod over such concerns).  They -nonprofits - can be key nodes in the expressive life grid.   

January 27, 2010 8:49 AM | | Comments (0) |
To Lewis Hyde's question: When does reframing work? I think the history of social movement scholarship would suggest that reframing works if:
  1. the new frame is resonant with the belief, values and cognitive orientation of targeted audiences; and
  2. when activists find that the old frames are increasingly unhelpful in their work and are actively looking for new frames.
Also, a frame doesn't just succeed or fail on its own.There are many strategies for making a frame more powerful.
  1. You can "amplify" the frame, e.g. excavate the core values and beliefs underlying the frame and make those more salient. So amplifying the "expressive life" frame might include focusing on the idea that Americans believe in self-determination, or emphasizing that expressive life is an antidote to both big government and big corporations; or that expressive life is about freedom and/or the pursuit of happiness.
  2. You can "extend" the frame by connecting it to other frames or other issues where there are natural allies/constituents who might be sympathetic to your frame but currently view the world through a different lens.
Here I think "expressive life" can be extended to social movements organized around media rights, or localism, or media literacy, or even spiritual and self-help movements.
January 25, 2010 2:23 PM | | Comments (0) |

For me, one important challenge facing cultural policy is the constant debate and emphasis on "content." Most of our policies and institutions are set up to advance, in one way or another, varying views of "good content" verses "bad content."  Like aspects of food policy, we are seeking ways to make sure more people eat "good food" - leading to better nutrition, which is considered a public good. But, we don't have any evidence that when we engage "good culture" (the opera verses Family Guy), that we necessarily have better health.  

Instead, I think cultural policy must try to be content neutral (which flips our entire paradigm on its head).  In terms of cultural participation, I have argued that this means thinking about the types of "experiences" that produce the outcomes we care about (reflection, deliberation, efficacy, understanding, pride, solidarity, etc.) and then orienting our support and policies around ANY form of content that can produce those experiences.   In the larger cultural policy debate, that means focusing on an outcome that is independent of content, such as the flow of creative expression between citizens.  

If we think about our "expressive life" infrastructure, we can imagine a grid (like the energy grid) that allows culture to flow freely between citizens (back and forward across time - encompassing both heritage and voice).  There are many things that get in the way of such communication or conversation (as Andras would put it) - intellectual property laws, restrictive corporate practice and narrow gates, media consolidation, lack of minority owned media, rules against low frequency radio, a shortage of presentation venues for live performing arts, the decline of local journalism, etc.   

The Expressive Life frame helps me think about a content-neutral frame that can focus on public interest concerns related to the quality of our expressive life "grid."  Where are the tolls, bottlenecks, dead ends, and one way streets in our collective cultural lives?  Can policy address these structural problems?  

January 25, 2010 7:29 AM | | Comments (1) |


This Conversation Are the terms "Art" and "Culture" tough enough to frame a public policy carve-out for the 21st century? Are the old familiar words, weighted with multiple meanings and unhelpful preconceptions, simply no longer useful in analysis or advocacy? In his book, Arts, Inc., Bill Ivey advances "Expressive Life" as a new, expanded policy arena - a frame sufficiently robust to stand proudly beside "Work Life," "Family Life," "Education," and "The Environment." Is Ivey on the right track, or more

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