Cultural innovation in transition. The case of the Bulgarian visual arts

Petrova, Erasmus University, 2020

The framework of this thesis builds upon Kuhn’s analysis. The distinction that Kuhn (1962/1996) draws between a new paradigm and a paradigm shift is crucial; it points to the fundamental differences between just newness and a newness that leads to transformative processes and practices. Accordingly, a new paradigm does not in and of itself necessarily lead to a paradigm shift. Kuhn argues that there is more at stake, and points out that it takes a fundamental shift in a community’s life. The argument put forward in this thesis goes one step further by proposing, through recourse to Klamer (2017), that these qualitative changes or innovations extend beyond purely economic logic, and instead necessitate changes in social and cultural practices.

Once the cultural and social embeddedness of the (cultural) innovation is established, the thesis proposes a comprehensive framework with the value-based approach (VBA) that allows an analysis of those cultural and social changes (Klamer 2017). Given the fact that the cultural goods are characterised by their capacity to yield economic, social and cultural values (Throsby 2001, 2008, Klamer 1996, 2002, 2004, Hutter & Shusterman 2006), we need not only to acknowledge these values, but also be able to analyse the way that they are realised or (culturally) valorized, either by being created, affirmed or changed. This argument is based upon the work of cultural economists, who purport that the values of a cultural good are not fixed, as standard economists invariably claim, but rather are subject to change during the process of their realisation. VBA helps to make sense of the complex interrelations between different spheres, i.e. market, governmental, social, cultural and oikos and their respective logics that shape differently the practices of individuals, groups or an entire society. Pursuing certain values is an enduring process, which means that if there is a real shift in values, then it will be realised in new practices that are sustained in the long-term. The VBA is expedient to empirically investigate the dynamic interplay between individuals and the environment.

Cultural innovation in transition: a Value-based Approach. The case of the Bulgarian visual arts, doctoral dissertation, Erasmus University, 268 pages.