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Justin O’Connor
in Culture is not an industry
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Emma Barrett

This chapter traces the Bank’s concerns and detailed planning, both in its own capacity and as tasked by the Government, throughout the Stock Exchange reform period. Overwhelming evidence that reforms emanated from the Government and Bank challenge the notion that the Big Bang was the ‘unintended consequence’ of government action and, indeed, the Bank’s official position, designed to carry the market, that reforms were practitioner-led. In the face of change, the Bank’s overriding aim was to maintain a central stock market, controlled and regulated by the authorities. Ensuring the Stock Exchange built and controlled the market’s electronic hardware and software was a means to this end, and guarded against fragmented, unruly markets. Ultimately, prudential regulation was sacrosanct whereas precise trading arrangements and even foreign ownership of firms were not. Control of the central market outweighed later stated objectives of attracting international capital and strengthening London as a world financial centre. Indeed, it was only after reforms had been agreed in principle that the Bank turned its attention to the impact of international capital and foreign competition on the City. An evolving awareness of the likely impact of reforms on British firms, stark choices and interventions to protect British interests show that then, far from embracing international capitalism, the Bank sought to protect national interests, often imperceptibly through the exercise of soft power. In the end, protectionism proved insufficient, but revealing intent challenges the ‘death of gentlemanly capitalism’ thesis which claims the authorities betrayed the City by not protecting it.

in ‘Survival capitalism’ and the Big Bang
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Emma Barrett

This chapter shows how the elite stockbrokers Cazenove responded to the Big Bang deregulation of the financial sector, using social networks and inherited practices to navigate what was an ostensibly technical and modernising revolution. The Thatcher administration’s reform of the London Stock Exchange was an economic enterprise intended to end restrictive practices, open the City to competition and, Survival Capitalism argues, secure the mechanism for selling gilts. On the face of it, a more open meritocratic financial sector marked the ‘death of gentlemanly capitalism’ and coalesced with a political agenda for entrepreneurialism and popular capitalism. Yet this case study shows how Cazenove’s culture drove its strategy, that privilege and hierarchy were sustained by influential cross-sector networks, and that there was resistance to change, even though technological change and new financial instruments were embraced as part of a strategy which mixed innovation with tradition. Essentially, elite networks persisted in the 1980s deregulated economy as established relationships were used to optimum effect and became more important after Big Bang. A more mutually supportive relationship between finance and industry than has hitherto been imagined is also demonstrated. By showing how a modernising revolution was navigated using social networks and traditions, this chapter restores the role of culture to financial history. It contributes to a body of work in twentieth-century British history which challenges the perception that neoliberal ideas were consistently applied under Thatcherism and complicates the notion of a coherent Thatcherite project.

in ‘Survival capitalism’ and the Big Bang
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Emma Barrett

Too often, Britain’s financial revolution has been attributed to the logics of market forces and new technologies. Reforms are deemed to have been inevitable, and often appear faceless. As the concluding chapter reaffirms, Survival Capitalism has sought to restore intent to this history. It has assessed responses to a whole range of factors by a host of actors and institutions as they reacted to threats and opportunities. It has traced an evolutionary process and shone light on the ways in which reforms were crafted by real people and shaped by their concerns and existing historically specific conditions. Accordingly, it has revealed the highly mediated and contingent nature of Thatcherite reforms and the constructed nature of markets – even international financial markets. Although informed by an over-arching philosophical framework, the Thatcher government was, in fact, as flexible and adaptive as the market approach it constructed. Deregulation was motivated by economic nationalism as well as free market ideology. The Government sought to deliver its monetary policy, maintain credibility and fund its reform programme at as low a cost as possible. It also sought to protect British interests and was not averse to intervening in markets when the need arose. Undoubtedly, the short-lived Truss administration applied the wrong lessons from British economic and financial history of the 1980s. As Big Bang 2.0 is an imagined growth strategy for the 2020s, Survival Capitalism is a timely reminder of the need to take seriously the importance of networks and culture when seeking to effect change.

in ‘Survival capitalism’ and the Big Bang
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Justin O’Connor

The "creative industries", Chris Smith's initiative in 1997, gave art and culture a powerful new policy relevance, one that seemed to open the door to political influence and resources. This chapter outlines the policy context for Chris Smith's adoption of creative industries, a folding of art and popular culture into a dynamic new knowledge economy. The creative industries idea was itself a response to a neoliberal critique of public policy for culture which began in the 1970s. The chapter argues that it was an essential part of a new kind of "soft" neoliberalism developed by ex-social democratic parties in the 1990s. The idea was announced at the same moment New Labour abandoned any aspirations to industrial strategy, the tools for which had anyway long been discarded by the Conservatives. Many of the outlying areas barely record any employment, and some have no creative industries employment at all.

in Culture is not an industry
Justin O’Connor

This chapter outlines a rationale for cultural policy as a crucial dimension of individual autonomy and democratic citizenship. It first looks at the household as a centre of cultural consumption and how the cultural infrastructure is crucial to sustaining their participation in culture as collective consumption. The chapter then examines the "hard" cultural infrastructure of the built environment and its utility "pipes", followed by the "soft" cultural infrastructure. It suggests that these infrastructures sustain the capacity for individual autonomy and freedom essential for any democracy, as well as connecting us to our pasts and opening up spaces for reimagining the future. In When Nothing Works, the FEC introduce the social infrastructure as a crucial third pillar of household liveability, after disposable household income and foundational services.

in Culture is not an industry
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Justin O’Connor

This chapter argues that any cultural policy must address both the small-scale local economies and the large-scale corporate cultural industries. Many working in arts and culture have long been sceptical about "cultural and creative industries", certainly after the global financial crisis and the austerity that followed. The chapter makes the case for a robust assertion of the role of state funding for culture as part of local development, and how we might reframe this social investment. A local SME economy will necessarily be trading outside the local area, and, especially in the cultural sector, with very dispersed partners and clients. The vision for growing a cultural infrastructure should be seen as social investment in public wealth building, one that requires a new set of principles, procedures, and policy tools. The revival of a flourishing professional cultural sector would add to local prosperity and liveability on social, cultural, and economic registers.

in Culture is not an industry
Justin O’Connor

Neoliberalism may be dead as a coherent political project, but many of its policy settings and cultural shibboleths remain. This chapter draws on the work of the Foundation Economy Collective (FEC), a loose grouping of scholars and activists in a conversation that has evolved since its early iteration. It introduces both the FEC's zonal account of the economy, and the more recent concept of liveability. The chapter tries to provide an analytical schema to frame culture's public policy role, and sketches how this might work in the current conjuncture. Cultural policy is caught between an expansive, idealistic view of its fundamental social role and the impoverished reality of its own intellectual, institutional, and political resources. The FEC disaggregate the singular model of the economy as envisaged by GDP modelling. FEC empirical studies have shown how the foundational economy is centred on supplying local economies, tending to employ locally.

in Culture is not an industry
Justin O’Connor

This chapter discusses the current situation of "polycrisis" as neoliberal capitalism gives way to a period of uncertainty and insecurity. The author pans out to look at the wider crisis of neoliberal capitalism, in which the undermining of the post-war consensus has resulted in widespread inequality and precarity, leading to a deep sense of social disintegration. He uses feminist social theorist Nancy Fraser to argue that the current crisis is not just "economic" but involves the ecological, political, and social systems on which capitalism relies, even as it disavows and undermines them. The chapter looks at how culture is being left out of the new transformative agendas that have emerged in the last decade. Attention is being paid to all those aspects of social life ignored or eroded by the GDP-centric growth models of the last forty years. The systemic failure of capitalism was framed as an internal economic contradiction.

in Culture is not an industry
Reclaiming art and culture for the common good

This book is about what happens when we turn culture into an industry, and how we can fix this. Culture is central to what it is to be human, to live in a social world. The key argument of the book is that culture, as an object of public policy, should be moved out of "industry" and back into the sphere of public responsibility alongside health, education, social welfare, and basic infrastructure. The book outlines the policy context for Chris Smith's adoption of "creative industries", a folding of art and popular culture into a dynamic new knowledge economy. It discusses the current situation of "polycrisis" as neoliberal capitalism gives way to a period of uncertainty and insecurity. The book confronts the common idea that culture is a luxury, something to be enjoyed after the essentials have been met. It outlines the Foundation Economy Collective's foundational approach, showing how it can be applied to the cultural sector. The book argues that any cultural policy must address both the small-scale local economies and the large-scale corporate cultural industries. It addresses the question of the everyday local economies of small and independent businesses. These were addressed by the Greater London Council, whose "SME approach" was very influential in New Labour's adoption of cultural and creative industries.