CULTURAL POLICY PROPER AND
Raymond Williams once made a distinction in passing between cultural policy 'proper' and cultural policy as display. He began by noting that cultural policy as display – though, by definition, highly visible – normally goes unnoticed as a matter specifically of public policy in the cultural arena.
There is one aspect of the State in relation to culture which is almost always
forgotten because we absorb it so very early that we can hardly recognize it at all.
It is worth remembering that the State has always had this double sense: it is not
only the central organ of power, but of display – indeed often specifically the
public pomp of a particular social order. You don't have to look far in any
particular society to see a culture which is not recognized as a cultural policy or an
arts policy specifically, but which is culturally concerned with display.
This was the Victorian commentator on Britain's unwritten constitution, Walter Bagehot's 'theatrical element of the constitution'. In the British case, much of the state's ritual display is to do with representing the mutually reinforcing relation between the monarchy and parliamentary democracy.
Commenting upon the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, Edward Shils and Michael Young (1953) had given a Durkheimian analysis of the symbolic importance of such stately occasions for articulating social order in the nation and maintaining political stability. Shils and Young's argument was subjected to a devastating critique for its conservative complacency. Norman Birnbaum (1955) emphasized instead the role of the British monarchy in masking over tensions, inequality and conflict within the territory of a supposedly unified nation-state. A further comment on the 1953