Importance Of Culture In Regeneration Cultural Studies Essay

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"Regeneration has been defined as the transformation of a place (residential, commercial or open space) that has displayed the symptoms of environmental (physical), social and/or economic decline. What has been described as: breathing new life and vitality into an ailing community, industry and area [bringing] sustainable, long term improvements to local quality of life, including economic, social and environmental needs." (Evans and Shaw 2004 P.5)

The contribution to which culture has on regeneration can be broken down in three specific models; Culture-led regeneration, Cultural regeneration and Culture and regeneration. In the report that Evans and Shaw wrote they go on to explain each of these models in more detail.

The first model is culture-led regeneration. Evans and Shaw (2004) said for culture-led regeneration that "cultural activity is seen as the catalyst and engine of regeneration" Upon further research, this could include design and construction of a building for public or business use, renovation of open space or the introduction of a programme or activity which in turn helps rebrand a destination. An example of culture-led regeneration would be Tate Modern in London. The Tate Modern opened in 2000 and was previously the Bankside Power station. It is one of the UK's top three tourist attractions and generates an estimated £100 million in economic benefits to London annually.

The second model is cultural regeneration. Cultural regeneration is included in an on-going strategy or an existing regeneration plan produced by a specific destination. For example, a lot of cities now have cultural quarters. Stoke-on-Trent's cultural quarter is in the city centre and is home to Stokes theatres, the potteries museum and the Staffordshire Hoard. This attracts hundreds of people to Stoke each week, producing impressive economic benefits.

The final model is culture and regeneration. In culture and regeneration, culture is a contributor to regeneration. Normally, it is on a small scale. For example, the Manchester International Festival drew in 200,000 visitors in its first year in 2007. It has attracted the most sponsorship ever raised by an arts festival and it has continued to grow despite the recession.

Culture plays a very important role in regeneration of people, places and pasts. The main goal for successful regeneration is sustainable economic growth.

If a place is regenerated it creates new opportunities for the community. It allows the activities of local community organizations harmonize with public and private sector partners. It also helps to reduce unemployment figures by local businesses creating new job opportunities for local people. Part of regeneration also includes buildings such as hotels, shopping centers, new business buildings and houses. For examples, Birmingham city council has committed itself to delivering 5000 new homes over the next twenty years, as part of their Growth Agenda. The council says "It is heavily involved in identifying where that growth should take place to ensure that sufficient infrastructure and business and employment opportunities are available to sustain the incoming population."

Festivals and events are a common feature of regeneration projects. Although an estimation can be provided for the turnout and economic benefit of a festival it can't be calculated precisely as it depends on how big the festival/event is and how long it lasts. Notting hill carnival estimated that people at the Carnival in 2002 spend £36 million including travel and £9 million on accommodation.

In the 1980's, the government said the East Thames corridor was under performing compared to other areas in the region so in 1994 the government published a framework to regenerate and rename it. In 1994 the East Thames corridor became The Thames Gateway.

Although regeneration can affect an area positively it can also have negative effects. When a place is regenerated it can raise the price of housing and general living so although there may be an influx of tourists, local residents may be looking to move out of the area due to high rent prices. For example this was the case in London, with the Tate Modern. In what was once a rundown area, the regeneration of it caused building prices to soar.

In conclusion, if regeneration is successful it can have a lot of positive effects on a place and its people. Successful regeneration brings jobs into the area, has good economic benefits and attracts tourists. When planning a strategy for regeneration it is important the place thinks of the local people before the economic benefits and possible tourism. If local people are not happy in their local area they will move, which in turn will backfire on the regeneration strategy as they will be losing money, businesses and properties will become empty, which will then turn tourists away and the strategy will become unsuccessful.

Part B

Analyse Hofstede's (1980) cultural dimensions and give examples that demonstrate how these cultural dimensions can cause clashes in a social interaction between tourists and hosts with different cultural backgrounds.

Between the years of 1967 and 1973, Dr. Geert Hofstede collected and analysed data from over 100,000 individuals from forty different countries. From this research, Hofstede developed a model that identifies four primary dimensions to differentiate cultures. The results are categorised by country although there can be more than one cultural group in one country. Hofstede believes cultural differences can be a disaster. He says:

"Culture is more often a source of conflict than of synergy. Cultural differences are a nuisance at best and often a disaster." Dr. Geert Hofstede

Power Distance Index (PDI) is the first dimension in the model. PDI looks at equality and inequality in a community of a country. Having a high power distance ranking shows that inequalities of power and wealth have been tolerated to grow within the society. These societies are more likely to follow a system that does not allow important upward mobility of its community. A low power distance ranking shows the society de-emphasizes the differences between citizen's power and wealth. In these communities equality and opportunity for everyone is underlined.

Secondly, is Individualism (IDV). IDV looks at how society reinforces individual or combined, achievements and interpersonal relationships. Having a high individualism status implies that individuality and individual rights are vital within the society. A low individualism status represents societies of a more collectivist nature with close ties between individuals. These cultures normally support extended families and collectives where everyone takes responsibility for other members of their group.

The next dimension is Masculinity (MAS). MAS looks at how the society supports or alternatively, does not support the traditional masculine work role of male achievement, control and power. If a country has a high masculinity status it indicates the country encounters a high degree of gender differentiation. In these countries and cultures, males dominate a substantial portion of the society and power structures, thus being females are being controlled by male domination. However, if a country has a low masculinity status it shows the country has a low level of differentiation and discrimination between genders. Normally females are treated as equals in these cultures.

The final dimension is Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI). UAI concentrates on the level of tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity within the society. Having a high uncertainty avoidance positioning shows the country has a low tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity. This allows for a rule-oriented society that establishes laws, rules, regulations, and controls to reduce the amount of uncertainty. However, a low uncertainty avoidance positioning shows the country has less concern about ambiguity and uncertainty and has more tolerance for a difference of opinions. This is seen in a society that is less rule-oriented, accepts change easier and takes bigger risks.

I will apply these dimensions of the model to two different destinations, Japan and Sweden, and then compare and analysis the results including how it can cause clashes between tourists and host communities who have different cultural backgrounds.

Japan's PDI score is in the middle (See appendix 1.) which shows Japan is somewhat a hierarchical society. They are always mindful of their hierarchical position in any social setting and act correspondingly. However, it is not as hierarchical as some of the other Asian cultures. There is a strong concept in the Japanese education system that everybody is born equal and anyone can become anything they want to if they work hard enough. On the other hand, Sweden's PDI score is lower (See appendix 1) which means that the Swedish are independent and possibly only have a hierarchy for convenience.

Japan scores 46 on the Individualism dimension, which is in the mid region. Japanese society shows numerous characteristics of a collectivistic society for example, putting the group coherence above the expression of individual opinions. The Japanese are seen as collectivistic by Western standards and seen as individualistic by Asian standards. They are more isolated and reserved than most other Asian communities. However, Sweden has a score of 71 which is a high indicator of an Individualistic society. This means there is a high inclination for a remote social framework in which individuals are expected to take care of themselves and their immediate families only.

At 95, Japan is one of the most masculine societies in the world. However, in combination with their mild collectivism, you do not see assertive and competitive individual behaviors which we often associate with masculine culture. What you see is a severe competition between groups. From very young age at kindergartens, children learn to compete on sports day for their groups (traditionally red team against white team).

In corporate Japan, you see that employees are most motivated when they are fighting in a winning team against their competitors. What you also see as an expression of masculinity in Japan is the drive for excellence and perfection in their material production (monodukuri) and in material services (hotels and restaurants) and presentation (gift wrapping and food presentation) in every aspect of life. Notorious Japanese workaholism is another expression of their masculinity. It is still hard for women to climb up the corporate ladders in Japan with their masculine norm of hard and long working hours.

At 92 Japan is one of the most uncertainty avoiding countries on earth. This is often attributed to the fact that Japan is constantly threatened by natural disasters from earthquakes, tsunamis (this is a Japanese word used internationally), typhoons to volcano eruptions. Under these circumstances Japanese learned to prepare themselves for any uncertain situation. This goes not only for the emergency plan and precautions for sudden natural disasters but also for every other aspects of society. You could say that in Japan anything you do is prescribed for maximum predictability. From cradle to grave, life is highly ritualized and you have a lot of ceremonies. For example, there is opening and closing ceremonies of every school year which are conducted almost exactly the same way everywhere in Japan. At weddings, funerals and other important social events, what people wear and how people should behave are prescribed in great detail in etiquette books. School teachers and public servants are reluctant to do things without precedence. In corporate Japan, a lot of time and effort is put into feasibility studies and all the risk factors must be worked out before any project can start. Managers ask for all the detailed facts and figures before taking any decision. This high need for uncertainty avoidance is one of the reasons why changes are so difficult to realize in Japan.

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