The Power to Decide: Cultural Policy in Jamaica

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This paper analyses the policymaking in a small state through the case of cultural policy in the small island state of Jamaica. Jamaica is well known for its creative prowess, especially in the fields of music (reggae) However, Jamaica still lacks a cultural policy overall and an explicit policy regarding music, its most famous export. One explanation proffered is the lack of policymaking capacity and resources within small states. However, Sweden and South Korea, other small states, provides distinct counterexamples in their policy focus on culture, especially pop music. Jamaica’s class divide could be demonstrative of the spillover effects of Bourdieu’s cultural capital thesis and cultural divide between the governed and the governing impacting on that area of policy. The relative lack of economic return to Jamaica also alludes to McCloskey’s bourgeois ethics hypothesis, whereby respect/ dignity and liberty for its practitioners is key to growth. This paper is derived from the analysis of interviews with those within the Jamaican government and music industry; and of policy documents. This paper is part of a wider creative industries research project on the relationship between cultural policy and prominent creative industries, especially outside the ‘West’ (North America and Europe).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 05 Jul 2016
EventThe 9th International Conference on Cultural Policy Research - Sookmyung Women’s University, Seoul, Korea, Republic of
Duration: 05 Jul 201609 Jul 2016


ConferenceThe 9th International Conference on Cultural Policy Research
Abbreviated titleICCPR 2016
Country/TerritoryKorea, Republic of
Internet address


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