Cultural Commons
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Cultural Commons

A New Perspective on the Production and Evolution of Cultures

Edited by Enrico Bertacchini, Giangiacomo Bravo, Massimo Marrelli and Walter Santagata

This compelling book offers a fresh and novel approach to study cultural and artistic expression from the perspective of ‘the commons’. It demonstrates how identifying cultures as shared resources is useful in eliciting the main factors and social dilemmas affecting the production and evolution of cultural expression.
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Chapter 1: Defining Cultural Commons

Enrico Bertacchini, Giangiacomo Bravo, Massimo Marrelli and Walter Santagata


Enrico Bertacchini, Giangiacomo Bravo, Massimo Marrelli and Walter Santagata 1 INTRODUCTION Cultural commons refer to cultures expressed and shared by a community. Cultures can be generally recognized as systems of intellectual resources that have an idiosyncratic nature. They are indissolubly dependent on both the evolving conditions of time and the spatial contexts in which human relations take place. Symbols, styles, knowledge, beliefs, rites, customs and techniques all contribute to the making of different tangible and intangible forms of culture that can be understood as intellectual resources shared, produced and expressed by the members of a community. Some examples include languages, the cultural atmosphere and image of cities, the type of a renowned wine such as Barolo, the traditional knowledge held by indigenous communities and the creativity expressed by a designers’ community or an artistic movement. As shown by Charlotte Hess (ch. 2 in this volume), the pioneer work on the commons by Elinor Ostrom has traditionally focused on natural resource management systems, such as fisheries, irrigation systems, forests or agricultural land. In the last decade a growing recognition has emerged that important types of humanly constructed shared resources could be appreciated and analyzed under a commons perspective. In particular, some influential scholars from different disciplines have already studied human knowledge and culture as new forms of commons. However, the focus of these works has been mainly devoted to addressing the privatization and commodification trends of such previously unownable resources. For example, Boyle (2003) has defined the threats from the expansion...

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