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Serbia/ 2. General objectives and principles of cultural policy  

2.2 National definition of culture

Since introducing the new Law on Culture, there is an official definition of culture (as a field and a set of cultural activities) in Serbian cultural policy. However, the use of the word "culture" has several levels of meaning within Ministry statutes and other programme documents, as it is the case everywhere else in the world. In the narrow sense, as it is in the Law on Culture, the term culture is used to refer to areas of competence within the Ministry of Culture, such as: cultural systems (policy making procedures & network of institutions and organisations), arts, artistic production, dissemination and participation, projects and heritage (Article 4). In the broader sense, culture also covers artistic education, research in the field of art and culture, social inclusion (Article 6), and cultural tourism – areas of responsibility found in other Ministries within the Serbian government.

In the widest sense, the word culture is used to refer to life-styles, values and visions of a Serbian multi-ethnic society. Very often, the notion of culture is used in this widest sense: the public discourse of government officials, stressing the importance of value changes within the cultural system including the norms, opinions and life-styles such as the "decontamination" of culture, de-commercialisation, fighting consumerism and chauvinism, on one side, or, more recently, fighting globalisation, western influences, antipatriotic feelings in culture, on the other. Research on the cultural practices of the population (Cvetičanin, 2007; Cvetičanin & Milankov 2011) were based on this wide concept of culture, showing differences in cultural models (taste cultures or socio-cultural layers) in the Serbian population, which are more visible in ways of consuming, socialising and other every day leisure practices, which includes a small percentage of artistic activities.

In general discourses however, culture is still understood as a high-standard of aesthetics, education, communication and living. Being "cultured" and "un-cultured" is still an important distinction in society (Spasić, 2013) and within the cultural sector itself. This elitist notion of culture as bildung is met in the research of cultural participation where going to the theatre or a concert is commonly equated with a "cultural uprising", and still, surveys are missing questions related to popular culture practices (Survey of Museum audiences by the Institute for Cultural Development).

Chapter published: 14-08-2015

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