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WHY HIDDEN CULTURE?

At its heart, recognition of hidden culture is fundamentally about social justice. For cities who prioritise the wellbeing of residents, acknowledging cultural forms which exist on the margins gives additional insight into complex issues such as identity, cohesion, behaviour, belief and memory. A hidden culture approach provides an unrivalled social commentary encompassing a range of issues. 


In extending formerly held notions of culture to embrace marginalised or voiceless communities of culture, is to open up the possibility of cultural value including niche practices and norms, which contribute to our regional or national behaviours or identities. While cultural processes and products are intrinsic to our values system, current cultural strategies tend to fall back on the homogenised conception of culture and value, for the masses. This homogenised version of culture, a pastiche of other cities, does little if anything to promote local behaviours and identities. The focus on individual experience in a hidden culture approach yields more about the rich social fabric of a city, its separation from the cultural mainstream,  and also the complex needs of communities.


Many public value approaches focus on a scorecard approach to measuring value, providing what is arguably a toolkit for policy makers to make the case for a prescribed set of accepted cultural (or other public) forms. The premise behind a model for hidden culture, however, is quite the opposite: an acknowledgement that the value already exists, and needs to be uncovered and communicated, or more deeply understood.

 

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