Histories  |  Data  |  Eco-Systems 

This strand is coordinated by Dr Lisanne Gibson and Dr Eleonora Belfiore.  A series of historical projects will result in an integrated, critical examination of the terms, narratives and assumptions constructing present day notions of participation and value and the relations between them.

This will be undertaken through research on six inter-related thematic histories:

  1. Political discourses of participation and value

This will trace the long-run intellectual history of cultural participation, examining its links with ideas of civic engagement and community well-being and prosperity. It will explore how the attachment of certain types of participation to particular forms of value became embedded in and reproduced by institutions and policy.

Researchers: Dr Eleonora Belfiore and Dr Felicity James

  1. Cultural policy, place and economy

This will examine the historical role of location as a co-ordinate of cultural policy and investment. In particular, it will investigate how, and with what effects for understanding participation and value, the spatialisation of culture and economy has been defined and enacted in different policy moments and contexts since 1945.

Researcher: Dr Lisanne Gibson  

  1. Cultural technologies and indicators

This will assess tools for capturing participation and representing its cultural value, focusing particularly on the technologies of indication and measurement associated with policy appraisal and formation since the mid-1990s (e.g. the Taking Part Survey) and on the work that methods ‘do’ in actively constructing the socio-cultural world.

Researchers: Catherine BuntingDr Abigail Gilmore and Dr Andrew Miles

  1. Everyday life

This strand examines shifting treatments and representations of the ‘everyday’, exploring the role of commonplace practices and associational life in defining cultures, communities and relations of power and value, conceptions of time use and demarcations between work and leisure, and the commercialisation and privatisation of culture.

Researchers: Dr Andrew Miles and Dr Jane Milling

  1. Community and cultural policy

This will develop an historical perspective on changing understandings and uses of the term ‘community’ in relation to cultural practices and policy, and particularly in the context of debates about the role of arts and culture in creating value through community well-being and social engagement.

Researchers: Dr Jane Milling and Dr Kerrie Shaefer

  1. PhD Project

Understanding cultural participation and value in former coalmining communities in and around Barnsley 

This study aims to contribute a historical dimension to our understanding of the cultural ecologies of particular places, in this case in relation to former coalmining communities in the South Yorkshire borough of Barnsley.  The primary aim of the study, in seeking to understand the contemporary impact of historical patterns of cultural participation and provision, is to interrogate the contemporary characterisations constructed in relation to particular cultural ecologies which underpin contemporary cultural provision and debate.  The study examines whether the characterisations constructed in relation to the cultural ecologies of particular places might be implicated in the reproduction of social and economic inequalities, both in relation to distinct geographical places and their communities.

PhD Candidate: Sarah Hughes

Supervisor: Dr Lisanne Gibson

Planned outcomes


There are a number of different types of dissemination planned for the historical work undertaken in UEP, including: Belfiore, E. and Gibson, L. eds., 2018, Histories of participation, value and governance, Palgrave.


‘Histories of participation, value and governance’, Location: School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, 23 April 2015. 

Convenors: Dr Lisanne Gibson and Dr Eleonora Belfiore