Contemporary Civilizational Changes and Development of Croatia
The systemic interpretation of culture brings us close to the thesis that global development is in reality the development of cultures and
civilizations. The world system, as well as the relationships it creates, offers more than a framework for analyzing cultural development and change.
It generates the global technological civilization, whose development is marked by the cultural matrices of production, social organization, and relationships. Being systems themselves, cultures preserve certain
inalienable autonomy within the world system - the autonomy which the world system cannot absorb, but must tolerate. By opening communicational spaces, cultures incite the changes of values. Thus, they remain distinctive, constitutive elements of civilization, which is being created by the world system (I. Wallerstein, B. Hettne, G. Rist, L. Sklair).
The project "Contemporary Civilizational Changes and Development of Croatia" starts from the realization that global civilizational changes are accelerating. Concepts such as mondialization, transnationalization and planetization reflect the processes of transformation in the world today.
The objective of the project is to identify and interpret civilizational changes in the present-day world and their effects on processes of international integration/disintegration, particularly in the context of the integration processes in Europe, processes of restructuring in Central and Eastern Europe (decentralization, privatization in the field of culture), and the position of Croatia. How does cultural transformation affect both developed and developing countries and express itself as a crisis of cultural identity?
It is generally held that the very intensive and far-reaching changes
since the l960s have been taking place in Europe - the continent of old
cultures, rooted in strong traditions, and of nation-states formed in the l9th century. All spheres of life have been affected by change - it has swept through politics, the economy and culture. Our age has seen the emergence of a number of new countries, a crisis of the "nation-state" concept, and growing nationalism. While societies are searching for national and ethnic identity, the question of the European cultural identity has also arisen. In the rapid transformation that is now taking place, an identity crisis is inevitable. Can we expect a new project of society to emerge from such crises? On the continent that some scientists have described as "increasingly disorganized and ridden by growing inequality" (S. Latouche),
new forms of cultural interaction and new values are emerging.
In Central and Eastern European countries in transition to decentralisation
and market economy, the whole social structure has entered a period of
uncertainty. The historic changes raised great hopes, but these countries
soon began to have serious doubts, asking themselves whether this process
opened the prospect of a different, authentic development for them, or
whether it simply required that they should adjust to Western models
(T.Szentes, E. Wallon). In all Central and East European countries changes
are taking place in culture, but in different ways from country to country.
Societies react differently, but there are also some common features: the
role of the state in culture changes, new forms of support for culture
appear, etc. (S. Gibson, B. Geremek, D. Ilczuk). The complex nature and
historical uniqueness of the phenomenon of transition gives ample scope to
social scientists and "designers of social living" for their projections; at
the same time, however, the complex new problems that transition brings
could all but paralyze any practical action.
Developing countries have for a long time been disappointed in their
expectations of development. Yet, Africa, which had a "maldevelopment"
(S.Amin), which has been "abandoned", "strangled", has survived and lives on
the lowest gross national product in the world. Although the general
situation does not warrant radical changes in culture, Africa has been
manifesting its strength in many forms of art, in literature and the
theatre. African countries are looking for new ways of integrating their own
cultural values into international communication (T. Verhelst, G. Thill, A.
Irele, E. Ayisi). Arab countries have also been looking for their own
identity in the past decades: Islamic fundamentalism is the most typical
illustration of "identity" movements today (F. Mansour, N. Safir). Is there
something that could be described as an Arab way of development? Its
cultures have created a strong cultural and religious identity, which has
helped it preserve Arab authenticity and specificity, but it has also led to
resistance to new ways of production in Arab countries. In some Asian
countries a rapid change of cultural values has been taking place. As
accelerated technological development caused the breakdown of traditional
values, Asia has been trying to re-evaluate its strong traditions in contact
with new production processes, which may pave the way for gradual cultural
transformation (Gao Xian, B. Saraswati). Latin America has been the scene of
"wandering modernity", the main cause of which has been rapid urbanization.
Latin American cities are developing into mega-cities while culture presents
itself mainly as mass urban culture with a heavy preponderance of
audio-visual media and modern communication technologies (G. Solinis, R.
The USA is undergoing a structural crisis that affects the very definition
of the American culture. As a country of immigration and minorities, the
United States was seen in the fifties as a textbook example of "melting
pot" assimilation and integration through diversity. However, the swelling
numbers of Blacks and Hispanics and the pressure of migrants from Asia and
Africa is changing American society. Japan also faces a crisis, especially
a crisis in education; one aspect of the crisis is that young people are
increasingly losing interest in models of economic growth and are much more
concerned with establishing their own identity.
Do cultural policies - geared mainly towards the formulation of the
objectives of cultural development - tend to ignore this crisis of identity?
Therefore, the second project's objective is to establish the theoretical
scientific bases of cultural policy, identify theoretical and applied models
and redefine them from the perspective of cultural development. The study of
cultural policies in the world, carried out in cooperation with UNESCO and a
number of international research institutions, is in the forefront of
contemporary research trends in the social sciences. In modern sociological
science, the study of cultural policies, an area of public planning that
most directly involves the objectives of national identity of society, now
occupies the place previously occupied by studies of more limited social
contexts or policies (O. Bennett, F. Bianchini, Au.Girard, C. Mercer, E.
Harvey, R. Rizzardo, M. Quine, P. Bendixen). The research is focused on the
general direction of cultural policy, agents and instruments of cultural
policy (administration, financing, legislation), sectorial cultural
policies, cultural industries, cultural development, and international
cultural cooperation. During the last ten years, only some elements of
cultural policies have remained in the standard framework (e.g., segments of
legislation or sectorial cultural policies), while the most evident changes
have occurred in the intensive development of cultural industries (Latin
America), in the greater decentralisation of decision-making and
coordination of cultural activities (particularly in European countries), in
the strengthening of the private initiative (organisation, financing by
sponsors and other diversified sources, e.g., in Asian countries), and in
the efforts intensifying regional cooperation (in Africa, for instance,
within the framework of SADC). Therefore, the problem of cultural policy
now appears in a very different light than in earlier period; some of
attempts suffer from failing to consider the developmental significance of
culture and to recognize that new models of development should come from
culture (D.P. Schafer).
The changes taking place within the overall civilizational context are
largely determined by changes in communication/information technologies (S.
Proulx, Ph. Breton, H. Frederick, H. Mowlana, Y. Mignot-Lefebvre, J. Robin).
In what direction the world will develop, will depend largely on the role it
will attribute to intercultural communication. Therefore, the project's
final objective is to study development communication among cultures
especially in the new Europe as part of the global dialogue, i.e. the role
of networks in cultural change and development. In recent years, the
interest in intercultural communication has found its expression in the
spread of networks for cultural development and cooperation. Cultural life
is being de-institutionalized and networks are playing an ever more
important role in cultural development and communication at all levels: the
local, regional, national, inter-regional, European and world level.
Networks ensure inter-cultural communication relating to problems shared by
all countries: cultural change, cultural identity and transnationalization
processes (Cl. Neuschwander, M. Bassand, R. Weber). The establishment and
development of cultural networks in the countries in transition, in which
many old structures have collapsed and new ones are slow in emerging, is of
particular importance, since thanks to their openness, flexibility and
dynamism, cultural networks stimulate cooperation and partnership among
individuals, groups and societies and make possible a dialogue of cultures.
The analysis of networks in culture shows that there are some typological
differences among them, which depend on the continent where they operate.
The statement is of course conditional, in this stage of research. However,
it seems that, for example, the United States does not have cultural
networks in the strict sense of the word - networks in America are always
linked with burning problems of our time, such as environmental problems or
education. In Latin America, interest focuses on audio-visual problems, in
Asia on books, reading and film; Africa has concentrated on the
establishment of documentation centres in an effort to halt the erosion of
traditional cultures. In Europe, most networks are concerned with research
and education, in Canada with the national heritage and communication. It
will be interesting to study the origin of these differences - could it be
that priorities in cultural policies and in development in general influence
the orientation of networks?
The expected results will be applied in defining the international aspects
of Croatia's cultural identity.
The first stages of the project are devoted to a comparative
analysis of case studies of development strategies and plans, as well as to
a study of the documents and projects of the EU, OECD, organisations in the
UN system (UNESCO), and the Council of Europe. Documents have also been
collected from some networks for cultural development
Network North-South etc.), especially from Culturelink, Network of Networks
for Research and Cooperation in Cultural Development, from institutions
engaged in cultural research, from mission reports, periodicals, and
different other sources of information. For statistical and other data,
direct use is made of the UNESCO Statistical Yearbook, Europa Year Book,
World of Learning, Country Profile, Handbook of Cultural Affairs in Europe,
etc. The methodology was developed for the design of an international
questionnaire, followed by a survey in 150 countries and an analysis of the
findings is under way. An international data base on civilizational changes
in the world (cultural development, cultural policies, etc.) is being set
up, and it already contains over 3,000 items. The establishment of this
system is crucial for areas such as cultural and informational development
and cooperation. The second stage of the project deals with the formulation
of main conclusions, using analytical-synthetic procedures. Relying on a
comparative method, international (especially European) elements of
Croatia's position will be brought out, in particular those which its
communication/information linkage with the rest of the world crucially
civilization, culture, change, cultural development,
integration/disintegration, cultural identity, cultural policy,
intercultural communication, civilization of networks
sociology, cultural studies, cultural policy studies
Duration of the Project
Biserka Cvjetičanin, Ph.D. (Project Director), Sanjin Dragojević, M.A., Siniša Malešević, M.A., Žarko Paić, M.A., Zrinjka Peruško Čulek, M.A., Zoran Roca, Ph.D., Nada Švob-Đokić, Ph.D., Pavle Schramadei, B.A., Aleksandra Uzelac, B.A.
Biserka Cvjetičanin, Ph.D., Scientific Researcher, Institute
for International Relations, LJ. F. Vukotinovića 2, P.O.Box 3O3, l0000
Zagreb, Croatia, tel. (385 1) 4826 522, fax: (385 1) 4828 361,