The Cultural Wealth of Nations

The Cultural Wealth of Nations

The Cultural Wealth of Nations

The Cultural Wealth of Nations

Synopsis

Symbolic resources affect social, cultural, and economic development. The value of being "Made in America" or "Made in Italy," for example, depends not only on the material advantages each place offers but also on the symbolic resources embedded in those places of production. Drawing on case studies that range from the vineyards of South Africa and the textiles of Thailand to the Mundo Maya in Latin America and tourist destinations in Tuscany, this volume examines the various forms that cultural wealth takes, the processes involved in its construction, and the ways it is deployed.

Leading scholars from a range of disciplinary backgrounds examine how symbolic resources and cultural understandings help firms and regions develop. Through a thoughtful analysis of current- day cases, as well as historical developments, The Cultural Wealth of Nations offers an exciting new alternative to standard economic explanations about the wealth and poverty of nations.

Excerpt

Economic success results from the symbolic resources—collective narratives, reputations, status, and ideas—that nations, regions, and communities have at their disposal. Studies that focus on the material resources within a territory, or the human capital of its population, fail to explain why countries with similar levels of material and human capital endowments find themselves moving at different rates of growth. Some countries are better able to attract foreign direct investment or global tourists compared with their similarly resourced neighbors, and some industries find that the country of origin labels marking their products can make them more attractive (and therefore more economically valuable) in foreign markets. This volume explores the different ways that industries become advantaged (or disadvantaged) in the global marketplace by virtue of their location and by virtue of the meanings encased in place.

Having one’s firm “home grown” in Italy differs from having the same type of firm started in Switzerland, especially if the firm is in the high-fashion industry. The opposite might be true for financial consulting. A firm’s products and services are wrapped in the narratives that relevant market actors share about the kind of place that anchors the firm and the types of things people in that place are good at doing. Consider too the impact of narratives and reputations on entire regions within a country, whether it be the wine industry of the South African Cape, the tourism service providers of Tuscany, or the microlending projects promoting cultural preservation and local economic development in Mali. How did wine from South Africa enter the global . . .

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