Paradise postponed? The Department of National Heritage and political hegemony
Ravenscroft, N. (1993) Paradise postponed? The Department of National Heritage and political hegemony. Working Papers in Land Management & Development. 03/93. Working Paper. University of Reading, Reading. pp13.
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Established following the Conservative Party's election victory in April 1992, the Department of National Heritage has been heralded as an important stage in the growing recognition of the significance of the leisure industry to Britain. By combining, for the first time, responsibility for sport, tourism, the arts, libraries, heritage, broadcasting and film, and by providing them with Cabinet representation, a unique opportunity has, seemingly, been provided to develop and promote the interests of leisure in Britain. This paper takes the view that although this initiative has been broadly welcomed, there are important inconsistencies which require attention. On the one hand the selection of the portfolio appears somewhat eclectic. On the other hand, it is questionable why such a department should have been developed at all. An inspection of the implicit ideology suggests that rather than the traditional use of the state to promote leisure interests, the introduction of the department signifies a shift to the use of leisure to promote the Government's interests. Thus the new Department of National Heritage is to be used as a central feature in the legitimation of the government's political programme. Rather than emphasising its traditional quasi-welfare role, the new place for leisure and heritage is firmly in the market economy. Whilst a leisured society may be the epitome of post-industrialism, therefore, the citizen rights claim for access to leisure activities can only be secured by engaging with the market. This legitimised construction of post- modern citizenship is at the centre of a new political order where choice has been replaced by means and where the classless paradigm championed by the Prime Minister will be a classlessness of constructed omission.
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