New study examines cultural values

Posted by pt91 at Feb 23, 2012 04:40 PM |
University of Leicester researcher co-leads research into value of our hobbies and leisure activities

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 23 February 2012

The University of Leicester is taking part in a study that aims to radically rethink the way our everyday cultural and leisure activities affect our cultural, social and even economic standing.

Understanding everyday participation – articulating cultural values will research how often-overlooked activities such as hobbies, community festivals and other leisure activities, which millions take part in each day but are often unsupported by governments, have value for the individual, their locality or community and the wider culture, society and the economy.

The investigation, led by the University of Manchester, has received a £1.5 million grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and will undertake historical analyses and produce new quantitative and qualitative data which will inform academic scholarship across a range of subjects.

Through the project’s 17 partners from the cultural and heritage sectors, the research will also inform the work of cultural and heritage policy makers, organisations and practitioners.

Researchers will undertake detailed ‘grounded’ investigations of cultural participation in order to understand how it is valued. The project will also involve trials of new policy and practice interventions - with the help of national and local partners and community organisations - in Manchester, Gateshead, Peterborough and Dartmoor.

Additional funding from Creative Scotland will enable two further studies to take place in Aberdeen and Stornoway.

Dr Lisanne Gibson, Director of Research at the University of Leicester's School of Museum Studies, is co-leading the historical work of the project dedicated to understanding how our modern perceptions of cultural participation and value have developed.

She will also lead on the location specific research in Gateshead and Stornoway and be involved in the study in Peterborough.

She said: “The project's radical innovation is to take individuals and community's 'everyday participation' seriously, including the types of cultural activity which are not generally captured in 'creative industry' reports or policies - hobbies or DIY cultural activities for instance. Such activities are, for many, their primary types of cultural participation and are crucial to the expression of their personal or community identity.

“The study's focus on place and intensive historical, ethnological and quantitative research of types of participation in particular locations will allow us to understand the 'ecosystem's' within which cultural participation is enmeshed. In this study we are most interested in the ways in which different types of cultural participation have consequences which are important to an individual’s or community's cultural, social or even economic standing and their wellbeing.”

Dr Gibson will bring 18 years of academic research experience in cultural policy studies to the study, as well as an interest in cultural policy, programmes and spaces and places.



For more information please contact Dr Lisanne Gibson at

Understanding everyday participation – articulating cultural values is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). For more details visit

Visit the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) at

Partner organisations taking part:

Arts Council England

Clore Duffield Foundation

Creative Scotland

Department of Culture, Media and Sport

English Heritage

Local Government Group

Manchester City Council

Museums Association

National Council for Voluntary Organisations

Norfolk Museums and Archaeology

Paul Hamlyn Foundation

Sport England



Voluntary Arts Network

Working Men’s Cub and Institutes Union

Report by Mark Cardwell

Share this page: