Public art debates as boundary struggles
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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- Scientific articles 
Original versionThe International Journal of Cultural Policy. 2021, 1-14. 10.1080/10286632.2021.2009472
This article investigates the symbolic boundaries that are at play in controversies over public art projects and the criteria different groups of actors, (e.g. artists, art experts, bureaucrats, and local communities), use when evaluating public art. This investigation shed light on how art, artistic autonomy, and public spaces are subject to ”boundary struggles” in which the identities and worth of different social groups and the value of art in society are negotiated. Based on case studies of two public art projects that were rejected before their completion, – and by tracing the media coverage of the public debates these cases generated, – this analysis reveals that the ways art is understood vary considerably between representatives of the artistic field and those outside of it. It is argued that insights into such struggles can inform cultural policy in the narrow and wide sense. It is valuable to gain insight into how ‘ordinary people’ value and draw boundaries around art, as cultural policy research has primarily attended to the perspectives of public authorities and professional actors in the artistic field.