Behind the Policy Mantra of the Inclusive Museum: Receptions of Social Exclusion and Inclusion in Museums and Science Centres

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Abstract

The new UK policy framework for museums aims to reconfigure their social role and organizational identity. Central to this process are the Government's generic concepts of social exclusion/inclusion incorporated into museum policies to make museums more socially responsible and responsive through their contribution to tackling social exclusion. Based on accounts, views and experiences of a cross-section of staff from two science museums and two science centres in the UK, this article examines the ways in which the concepts of social exclusion/inclusion are mediated and configured in museum professionals' perceptions, interpretations and practices. I argue that the concepts of social inclusion/exclusion do not map onto organizational actors' interpretations and experiences in the way envisaged and demanded by the policies. I also highlight some of the unintended consequences and tensions that can arise in the course of museums' and museum professionals' attempts to balance the social inclusion role with other demands and pressures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123 - 147
Number of pages25
JournalCultural Sociology
Volume2
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008

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