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Greece/ 2. General objectives and principles of cultural policy  

2.2 National definition of culture

There is no official definition of culture in government policy documents. The Greek Constitution makes, however, indirect reference to culture, in that it recognises the freedom of artistic expression, and determines that the state has the obligation to support the development and promotion of artistic creativity and to protect the cultural (manmade) environment- including monuments and the regions and vestiges of heritage. Responsibilities of the Ministry of Culture, as stated in its organisational statutes, include the protection and valorisation of cultural heritage (including archaeology and folk culture), of creators in the arts and letters (including the fine and visual arts, theatre, dance, cinema, music, and literature) and their intellectual property rights, of artistic education, of local cultures and cultural diversity, of international cultural exchange and co-operation, and of access to cultural production for all: this gives light, by enumeration, to a functional definition of culture in the Greek context.

In policy documents and current debates, the coined word politismos is used to the exclusion of other terms in order to subsume the meaning of foreign terms such as culture (and its French and German cognates, with their differing meanings), civilisation, or arts and letters (the "high" culture). Cultural heritage holds a central place in this definition. A broader definition of culture, used increasingly in policy documents during the last decade, addresses cultural heritage and all manifestations of literary and artistic creativity from prehistory to contemporary times, as well as values and behavioural patterns congruent with the promotion of creativity and free access to artistic and literary production. Even so, culture is not understood as a value-neutral concept, and its pursuit stands in opposition with "easy" entertainment, leisure, advertising, the media, and what is defined in other countries as the "cultural industries".

Chapter published: 14-08-2015

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