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Discourses of cultural heritage policy in the Netherlands

Jeroen Rodenberg
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Rudie Hulst
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Jeroen Rodenberg
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Open Panel

Abstract

This paper explores the ways in which cultural heritage discourses influence cultural heritage policy and policy change in the province of Flevoland, the Netherlands. The beginning of 19th century is considered the starting point of public heritage policies. Over time, several heritage discourses have developed. ‘Older’ discourses however have not disappeared completely and still influence actual heritage policies. These discourses are advocated by specific actors and advocacy coalitions. The paper presents a typology of five discourses developed on the basis of an extensive literature review. We distinguish two streams: historical-essentialist discourses and social-constructivist discourses. The first stream focuses on the historical reality and historical value of heritage objects and contains two discourses: the object focused heritage management discourse and the integrated heritage management discourse. The second stream focuses on the present-day value of heritage and the use of heritage in contemporary social constructs; we distinguish between the instrumental heritage discourse, the managerial heritage discourse and the community driven heritage discourse. The case-studies provide insight in how discourses influence heritage management policies and decisions. Actors form coalitions with other actors using the same or closely connected discourses to advocate their discourse and make it the dominant discourse. Depending on the actors involved over time and existing advocacy coalitions, discourses vary in dominance. There is a close link between the dominant discourse within a policy network, advocated by the most powerful coalition of actors, and the outcome of heritage policy and the way in which heritage management is actually carried out.