Cultural Rights: Technology, Legality, and Personality

By Celia Lury | Go to book overview
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At the heart of the arguments presented so far has been an investigation of the changing organisation of cultural reproduction. Two related dimensions of reproduction have formed the twin axes of analysis: the capacity for copying at the moment of production, and the relation between production and reception. While much of this book has been concerned with an historical investigation of the social organisation of these two dimensions, this chapter will, after a very brief review of their key phases, consider, somewhat speculatively, their contemporary significance for cultural values.

Raymond Williams’ categorisation of the means of cultural production provided the initial basis for an investigation of the first dimension. The technical capacity for the production of separable cultural goods—that is, goods which are potentially spatially and temporally independent of the context of their production—and in particular techniques of mass or multiple copying, were argued to have created radically new possibilities for cultural reproduction. Such possibilities were seen to have been realised within a general mode of replication in contradistinction to an earlier mode of repetition. A particular concern for cultural producers within the later mode is the management of innovation; the most recent phase of this was described in terms of the emergence of branding. At its simplest, branding refers to the process by which the cultural work is designed to function as its own advertisement, or, to put this another way, is designed to create an audience for itself. 1

It has been argued that, through the regime of rights associated with trademark, this audience and its reception activities, are, subject to the strength of the brand, made available


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