Subjectivity in an Era of Scientific Imperialism:
Shadows in an Age of Reason

Harry Hillman Chartrand ©
Journal of Arts Management and Law 18 (3), Fall 1988.


Paradox 1: From Anonymity to Celebrity
Paradox 2: From Intangible to Factor of Production


     The Post-Modern Economy
          Narrowcast Marketplace
          Consumer Research
          The ReDecade
          Research and Development

  The Information Economy
          The Crisis in Employment

Paradox 3: Arts Research and the University


We have paid a terrible price for our education, such as it is. The Magian World View, in so far as it exists, has taken flight into science, and only the great scientists have it or understand where it leads; the lesser ones are merely clockmakers of a larger growth, just as so many of our humanist scholars are just cud-chewers or system grinders. We have educated ourselves into a world from which wonder, and the fear and dread and splendour and freedom of wonder have been banished. Of course, wonder is costly. You couldn't incorporate it into a modern state because it is the antithesis of the anxiously worshipped security which is what a modern state is asked to give. Wonder is marvellous, but it is also cruel, cruel, cruel. It is undemocratic, discriminatory, and pitiless.

Robertson Davies, The Deptford Trilogy: World of Wonders,
Macmillan, Toronto, 1987, p. 836.


As the twentieth century draws to a close, troubling signs cloud the dawning of the new century and millennium.  Three hundred years into the Age of Reason, opinion polls indicate that nearly half of the population believes in UFOs, astrology, and, more recently, the New Age Movement.  A significant part of society is fundamentalist Christian and accepts as divine truth a book written in ancient Aramaic and Greek, translated into Latin and from Latin into English, French, and other modern languages.  Many are creationists who are convinced that the world was created ex nihilo seven thousand years ago and who actively seek equal time in the classroom with what they consider to be the secular myth of evolution.  The drug epidemic (including alcoholism), so close to the hearts of morally self-righteous politicians, infects a population that cannot, or will not, cope with the stresses and strains of modern life except through escape into hedonism and temporary oblivion.  The scientific method, applied to the outer material world, has taken humanity to the moon and beyond. It has given us a collective vision of the Unus Mundus - One World, One People, One Biosphere.  The inner world of feeling, intuition, and sensation, however, has not been, and perhaps cannot be, domesticated or tamed by scientific reason alone.  In fact, after three hundred years of enlightenment and the scientific method, we live in a world riddled by superstition, irrational beliefs, and ideological fanaticism.  As noted by the bard of the cultural revolution, Bob Dylan, "Something is going on, and you don't know what it is, do you Mr. Jones?"

Where in this muddled inner world of mind and motivation is university research?  It is caught in a web of scientism-of scientific English, political science, the science of political economy, and all the other so-called human sciences.  Reductionist methods, however, developed for the study and control of the outer material world, have generated few convincing insights to soothe the troubled heart of this post-modern era when applied to the subjective reality of the Self.

There are few remaining sectors of secular society that continue to address the inner world.  The most important of these is the arts. Art defines the inner drama of the individual.  It provides meaning in an age without apparent value beyond basic greed.  Even our understanding of the arts, however, has been reduced to popular myth like the Gulag and Garret Myth: Great Art is the Product of Economic Deprivation or Political Oppression.  It is only in the last century that this belief has held sway over the public imagination.  Before that time, art was an integral part of life, not some separate and mysterious field of human endeavor.

It is this paradox of an age apparently dominated by science and technology in which irrational beliefs hold sway over a significant proportion of the population that provides the context of this article.  These irrational beliefs cast a shadow on this age of reason and raise questions about the adequacy and relevance of university research.  This paradox represents the other side of the coin involving business and governmental questioning of the performance of universities in job training and the application of university research for economic purposes.  To a degree, we are dealing with a situation similar to that identified by Goethe in his rebuttal to Newton's wavelength theory of color (Goethe 1810).  Color is not just a physical phenomenon of photons or waves (yet even in scientific terms, the wave/particle paradox of light must be recalled). It is also a subjective phenomenon involving how we see and understand the world around us.  Our understanding is incomplete and misleading if we accept only one side of the coin.

The theory of colours . . . has suffered much, and its progress has been incalculably retarded by having been mixed up with optics generally, a science which cannot dispense with mathematics; whereas the theory of colours, in strictness, may be investigated quite independently of optics. (Goethe 1810: para 725) 

It is in this sense that three paradoxes concerning the arts will be explored.  First, the increasing prominence and social importance of the artist in a scientific age will be considered.  Second, the fact that the subjective, intangible arts are now a significant force within the economy will be outlined.  Finally, an exploration will be made of the paradox that the university (the nominal center of research in contemporary society) may be ill equipped to conduct arts research.

A distinction must be drawn here.  Arts research can be defined as an investigation of alternative ways and means of creating art.  This is the domain of faculties of fine arts. Arts research can also be defined as the transdisciplinary application of social scientific methods and techniques to the study of the arts and artistic phenomena.  This second definition will be examined in this article, and, in this sense, arts research is a sub-field of policy research.



In a scientific age characterized by standardization and uniformity, it is a paradox that the idiosyncratic identity of the artist has become a dominant force within contemporary society.  The evolution of culture has been characterized by progressive division of labor and differentiation of social function until contemporary culture today can be defined as greater than the sum of various differentiated sub-cultures, including the arts, crafts, economics, fashion, heritage, language, law, multiculturalism, politics, religion, science, and sports.  Within the arts, there has been a parallel development characterized by the progressive individualization of the artist from anonymity to celebrity.

In traditional societies, awe and mystery surround the created object into which the creator projects spirit and soul.  In Japan, for example, reflecting an ancient tradition of animism, a sword, which is a product of mental work, is regarded not merely as a material object but as having been imbued with the author's living spirit.  Furthermore, objects of worship are not limited to visible and concrete things.  Even a word can have a spirit (Koisumi, 1977: 12).  In the Occident, only vague hints of ancient animism remain in concepts such as the moral rights of creators.

The numinosity of artifacts among pre-literate peoples reflects an investment of what Carl Sagan calls extra-somatic knowledge, that is, knowledge carried outside of the body (Sagan 1977).  Such knowledge can, by analogy, be considered to be the social genetic that directs the evolution of human society.  It is the knowledge passed from one generation to another.  Today it is embodied in books, recordings, computer software, and other contemporary sources to transmit knowledge to future generations.

In pre-literate societies, such knowledge is transmitted orally through the mnemonics of ritual and chant enforced through religious practice and taboo.  The association of rhythmic or repetitively patterned utterances with supernatural knowledge endures far back into historical times.  Among the early Arabic peoples, for example, the word for poet was sha'ir - the knower, a person endowed with knowledge by the spirits (Jaynes 1978).

In such societies, innovation depends upon the insight of the creator and his or her ability to ensure the integrity of mnemonic instruction, whether in the form of incantation or epic poem.  Cause and effect are not distinguishable.  Desired results are achieved through the unchanging enactment of ritual.  Science and art are one.  How to make something and the thing that is made are mystically unified.  Process and product are identical.  To name a thing is magically to control it.

In fact, the distinction between economy and culture does not exist in such societies.  To the Balinese, for. example, artistic knowledge is not restricted to a special intellectual class.  The Balinese have no words for art or artist.  Making a beautiful offering, carving a temple gate, or playing a musical instrument - all are tasks of equal aesthetic importance produced anonymously and done entirely in the service of society and religion with no thought of personal gain (Morris 1982).

How different the case has become in contemporary Western civilization.  In the Ancient World and during the Middle Ages, the identity of the artist was seldom known.  The great cathedrals were built anonymously by artist engineers who combined the mystical arts and sciences of the guilds.  In the Renaissance, the scientist and artist were still one person, but personal identity became attached to the works of the proverbial Renaissance man.

Beginning, however, with the Enlightenment and the republican revolutions of the eighteenth and the Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth centuries, a divergence appeared between scientific and artistic ways of knowing.  The romantics, followed by the art for art's sake movement, consciously and deliberately separated the arts from an increasingly industrialized dehumanized society (Henderson 1984: 46).  This led the high arts and the artist to become increasingly isolated from mainstream society (Bell 1976: 13-14).

Within mainstream society, the scientific utilitarian ethic triumphed in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  The anonymous and ubiquitous industrial object displaced the individualized, hand-made, subjective work of art.  In the Communist world, this was called Socialist Realism.  In the Capitalist world, it was called bauhaus, or the international style of architecture.

During this period, the increasingly obscure aesthetics of high art, in which the label is the artwork (Wolfe 1974), became more and more alien to the average citizen.  In the high arts today, the artist has become the art object in new high arts disciplines such as performance art. (Hughs 1981).   In the commercial arts, the identity of the artist serves as the basis for emerging and controversial celebrity rights, which require payment to the artist or to his or her descendants for the right to imitate the artist's mannerisms or appearance for commercial purposes.  A fundamental dissonance remains today, however, between artistic and scientific ways of knowing.  To some, this dissonance is a threat to the long-term well-being of Western societies (Harmann 1979: 11).



It is a paradox that the arts are generally considered to be an intangible frill in a bottom-line economy, when in fact they have become a major force in the competitiveness of the economy.  To illustrate this point, consider that there are four distinct segments of contemporary art-the fine arts, the commercial arts, the amateur arts, and the applied arts.  The creative source in each is the individual artist.  The fine arts are a professional activity that serves art for art's sake, just as knowledge for knowledge's sake is the rationale for pure research in the sciences (Chartrand 1980).  The commercial arts are a profit-making activity that places profit before excellence.  The amateur arts are either a recreational activity that serves to re-create the ability of a worker to do his or her job or a leisure activity that serves to self-actualize a citizen's creative potential, thereby permitting him or her to appreciate life more fully.  The applied arts concern the application of the arts in business and the public sector, such as interior and product design, illustrating art, and copy writing and editing.

Each art activity is intimately interrelated.  The amateur arts, in actualizing the talents and abilities of the individual citizen, provide an educated audience and initial training for the fine and the commercial arts.  The fine arts, in the pursuit of artistic excellence as an end in and of itself, provide research and development for the commercial and the applied arts.  The commercial arts, in the pursuit of profit, provide the means to market and distribute the best of the amateur and the fine arts to an audience large enough and in a form suited to earn a profit.

Collectively, the fine, amateur, and commercial arts make up the arts industry, including advertising, broadcasting, motion pictures, the performing and visual arts, publishing, sound, and video recording.  Compared with the twenty-two main Canadian manufacturing industries in 1983, the arts industry was the largest, with more than 234,000 employees; the fifth largest in salaries and wages, with $3.1 billion; and the tenth largest in revenue, with $9.2 billion (Research & Evaluation 1987: 5-17).  Arts industry revenue was 2.4 percent of the Gross National Expenditure (GNE).  Using a GIVE multiplier of 2.1, the accumulated income multiplier effect of the Canadian arts industry was $19.3 billion in 1983, or 5 percent of the GNE.

Three fundamental demographic changes are contributing to growth in arts participation and the emergence of the arts as a significant factor of economic production.  These are rising levels of education, increasing participation of women, and the aging of the population.


The average level of education has risen dramatically in the last generation.  In 1961, approximately 11 percent of adult Canadians had some post-secondary education, compared with almost one-third in 1985.  By the end of this century, the number is projected to be almost 40 percent.

Within the labor force, i.e., taxpayers-the average level of education is forecasted to grow at an even faster rate.  Between 1977 and the year 2000, the number of members of the labor force with at least some post-secondary education will double from 3.4 million, or 32 percent of the labor force, to 6.7 million, or 45 percent of the Canadian labor force (Research & Evaluation 1987: 5-17).

Studies conducted around the world and across Canada indicate that the fine arts audience is characterized by high levels of education (McCaughey 1984).  A proxy for the size of the fine arts audience in Canada is the number of adult Canadians who have at least some post-secondary education.  Accordingly, the fine arts audience no longer constitutes a small statistical elite.  Rather, it represents a significant plurality of the adult population at present, and, by the year 2000, it will represent almost half of all taxpayers-those who are the most socially active, politically aware, and economically powerful members of society.

The impact of rising levels of education can also be seen in the growth rate in participation in alternative leisure-time activities.  Between 1977 and 1985, the adult population in Canada grew at an average annual rate of 1.6 percent.  Participation in arts-related activities grew significantly faster than this figure and, in fact, grew significantly faster than all other leisure-time activities.  Attendance at museums and art galleries grew at an average annual rate of 2.6 percent, use of libraries at 2.4 percent, and attendance at live theatre at an average annual rate of 2.1 percent.  On the other hand, attendance at sports events increased at an average annual rate of 1.3 percent and television viewing at 1.4 percent (Research & Evaluation 1987: 3).  By the year 2000, growth in arts participation will exceed growth in both the adult population and in alternative leisure activities.


The second significant demographic trend during the last generation has been the entry of women into the economic and political life of the community.  This has had a dramatic impact upon family structure and employment patterns.

In 1971, one household in three had the traditional format in which the wife stayed home with the children; by 1981, only one household in five fit this description.  It is expected that the 1986 census will show a further substantial decline.

By 1985, more than 70 percent of Canadians were employed in the service sector.  This represented a 31 percent increase in service jobs in a decade.  There was virtually no employment growth in manufacturing during the same period.  The growth in service sector employment contributed to the increasing participation of women in the work force, which rose from 42 percent in 1973 to 54 percent in 1985 and is forecasted to reach 57 percent by 1995 (Gordon 1986).

Women in North America have traditionally been considered the carriers or guardians of culture.  In fact, next to level of education, sex is the best demographic indicator of arts participation in North America.  Women tend to be more exposed to and involved in the arts and creative activity in childhood than are men, thus sowing the seeds for an adult taste for the arts.  In North America, women make up 60 percent of the arts audience.  This sex bias, however, is not apparent in Europe, where the arts audience is approximately 50 percent male (McCaughey 1984: 4).

The important role of women in the arts can also be seen through three comparisons of women's employment in the labor force as a whole and in arts-related employment.  First, according to the 1981 Canadian census, women represented 40 percent of the labor force but almost 50 percent of the arts industry labor force.  Second, 48 percent of all women in the labor force had some post-secondary education, compared with 65 percent of women employed in the arts industry.  Third, only 1 percent of women in the labor force had a master's degree, while 11 percent of women employed in arts-related occupations had at least a master's degree.

In fact, no sector of society is as dominated by women as the arts industry.  No car company or major manufacturing firm has been founded by a woman, but many ballet and theatre companies, galleries, and music festivals have been established by women.

Accordingly, domed stadiums appeal to a segment of the population that, at least in relative terms, is declining in political and economic importance-young males.  Opera houses, galleries, and other cultural facilities should form the basis of the political edifice complex if politicians wish to appeal to the increasingly important women's constituency.  The increasing role of women in the economy and politics in and of itself will lead to increasing political and economic recognition of the arts and culture.


It is widely known that the demographic structure of Western countries is being fundamentally altered by the aging of the "baby boom" generation.  By 1996, nearly 8 million Canadians will be over 50 years of age, and this age bracket will represent 28 percent of the population, up from 22 percent in 1976. The over-65 age group will account for 13 percent of Canadians in 1996, compared with 9 percent in 1976.  There will also be a 7 percent decline in the number of people under 35 (Gordon 1986).

It is not generally recognized, however, that after education and sex, age is the best demographic indicator of participation in most arts-related activities. The older one grows, the more likely one is to participate in arts-related activities, at least up to retirement age (McCaughey 1984: 6).

Now that compulsory retirement at age 65 has been abolished and the work week continues to decline, older members of society will have more time and financial means to participate in arts-related activities.  This trend will be reinforced as the highly educated baby-boom generation of the 1950s and 1960s becomes the geriatric boom after the year 2000.


The Post-Modern Economy

These fundamental demographic changes are also having a dramatic impact upon the nature of the economy, which, in turn, has a relationship with the arts. Demographic changes are altering the consumption habits of the population and the marketing behavior of producers in eight ways.

The first of these is the emergence of the narrowcast as opposed to the mass market.  Second is the growing importance of design in the sale of goods and services.  Next, there is the changing nature of advertising.  Fourth is the increasing role of the arts in consumer research.  Fifth, there is now near-universal access to the fashions and styles of previous historical periods, a phenomenon that has been called the ReDecade.(Shales March 1986).  Sixth, the role of research and development in economic development is becoming crucial to the competitive position of nation-states, and the arts play a role in encouraging industrial invention and innovation.  Seventh, the information economy has emerged in recent years as a major focus of intellectual attention; within this new form of wealth generation, the arts play a major part in final demand.  Finally, deindustrialization of First World nations is causing increasing concern about creating cheap yet meaningful employment; here, too, the arts play a role.

The Narrowcast Marketplace

The emergence of the narrowcast market is the most significant marketing development of the 1970s and 1980s.  The growth of numerically small but economically viable markets has resulted from an unprecedented average level of education, an unparalleled division and specialization of labor, and an unrivaled degree of urbanization.  If the industrial revolution produced standardization throughout society, then what Alvin Toffler has called the Third Wave is reversing the process.  There is a rising level of diversity, a de-massification of the marketplace with more sizes, models, and styles; a de-massification of tastes, political views, and values (Toffler 1979).

Fragmentation of the mass market has had significant implications for producers, implications that were driven home by two recent recessions with their stranglehold on consumer spending.  This forced producers to try to understand what made the domestic market tick.  They soon discovered that demographic and lifestyle changes had delivered a death blow to mass marketing and brand loyalty.  A North American economy that had once shared homogeneous buying tastes had splintered into many different consumer groups-each with special and differing needs and interests (Business Week November 21, 1983).

Among First World nations, the emergence of the narrowcast marketplace can also be identified with two developments: one technologic, the other demographic.  First, the introduction of cable and pay TV services has fragmented the traditional lowest common denominator broadcasting systems of North America during the last decade; it promises to do the same to European broadcasting in this decade.  The term narrowcasting has been derived from this development.

Second, there has been the emergence of a new class of consumer, the yuppies-young, urban, upwardly mobile professionals.  This group is attracting the attention of both producers and politicians (Business Week July 2, 1984: 52-62).  In essence, the yuppie is a consumer with a high level of education and income who demands high-quality, sophisticated, often unique or specialized goods and services.  It is also the yuppie with whom we can identify the rapid increase in arts participation during the last generation.

The arts also serve as the historical leitmotif for the general market trend toward differentiation in consumer taste.  Examples of highly differentiated taste in the fine arts can be seen in alternative styles of painting, such as impressionist versus expressionism versus realism versus abstract versus conceptual versus minimalist painting. What is a prize to one collector is valueless to another.

Manufacturers and other producers are learning from the experience of the fine arts to succeed in the narrowcast marketplace.  As noted by former CBs president, Frank Stanton,

[T]he essential values of the public are most clearly evident, and in some instances only, in the arts-in music, the drama and the dance, in architecture and design, and in the literature of the times. It is through knowledge of people's values that corporate marketers know what goods and services to provide and how to motivate consumers to buy their products (Selner 1982)


In both the United States and Canada, higher-quality consumer products tend to come from abroad, particularly from Europe.  Why?  Capital plant and equipment in North America are as good as those in Europe; the answer, therefore, is not superior European production technology.  In fact, it results from a feedback between skilled consumption and production.  As noted by Tibor Scitovsky in his path-breaking book, The Joyless Economy,

[the North American] buyer of European imports benefits from the high standards which careful European shoppers' finicky demand imposes on their producers; he does not have to be a careful shopper himself. In other words, he can be what is known as a free rider, enjoying the benefits of other people's careful shopping without paying his share of the cost, in terms of time and effort, that careful and aggressive shopping involves. That explains why producers find it unprofitable to cater to his demand by trying to out-compete high-quality imports, despite the often exorbitant price they fetch. Consumers seem willing to pay a high price, in terms of money, for the reputation of European imports; that is, we pay cash to obtain high quality without having to pay for it in terms of careful shopping (Scitovsky 1976: 178).

When the design advantage of European producers, and increasingly that of Japanese producers of consumer electronics, is combined with the wage advantage of offshore or Third World producers, the North American producer is left with a narrowing mid-range market.  This combination of design and wage disadvantages may explain the apparent de-industrialization of North America. Improved productivity through robotics and other new technologies may lower costs of production, but only improved design will secure part of the growing yuppie market for North American producers.

The importance of enhanced design is becoming apparent to some major North American corporations, including SCM, Teledyne, Black & Decker, and J. C. Penney.  This change reflects a bottom-line awareness that if a consumer does not like the way a product looks, then he or she may never find out how well it performs; thus, there is no chance for a sale.  Growing awareness of this basic principle is resulting in increased recognition of the importance of industrial design and the role it plays in helping companies meet sales and marketing goals.  Increasing numbers of marketers are utilizing design consulting companies or setting up in-house design departments."

Design skills come from the arts.  Quoting from the Macdonald Royal Commission,

There is, then, another aspect to culture, namely good taste, good design, and creative innovation, that should enable smaller industrial economies to compete effectively in the world economy .... In this endeavour, higher quality implies an organic relationship between business and engineering, on the one hand, and design and craftsmanship, on the other .... High-quality products, technologies, plants, homes, cities, and locales require the presence of creative artists of all kinds. To increase the long-run supply of artists . . . governments must support the artists and the arts. The long-term return from investment in artists and the arts is real and substantial. In the absence of strong public support of this sector, Canada will not reap these benefits. Governments at all levels should increase their contribution to their respective arts councils (Royal Commission1985: 115-116).


It is generally forgotten that, within the ecology of capitalist realism, advertising is the lubricant of the market economy.  Advertising, to a great extent, is the application of the literary, media, performing, and visual arts to sell goods and services.  Actors, dancers, singers, musicians, graphic artists, copy writers, and editors are employed to sell everything from cars to computers; from beer to toilet paper.  In fact, the production cost of a one-minute commercial on national American television equals or exceeds the cost of an hour-long episode of "Dallas."

In some cases, advertising expenditures of major corporations such as Proctor and Gamble account for more than one-third of total production costs of such undifferentiated consumer products as soap and shampoo.  These companies spend millions of dollars in advertising to differentiate their products, one from the other, even though in objective scientific terms there may be little difference between them.

Advertising talent and technique come from the arts.  Thus with respect to design and advertising, the arts are analogous to research and development in the physical sciences.  The arts in the Post-Modern economy are no longer just a symbol but are also a source of national wealth.  In fact, more artists work outside than inside the arts industry.  The majority of artists work as illustrating and graphic artists, designers, copy writers and editors, and decorators for companies in sectors as diverse as manufacturing, finance, insurance, and retail trade (Research & Evaluation January 1984).

The fine arts also play an increasingly direct role in the advertising and marketing strategies of corporations.  The up-scale nature of the arts audience -high levels of education and income- is an attractive market for many corporations.  Corporations increasingly sponsor fine arts activities, not as charity but as a major marketing technique.  In this regard, a survey by the Institute of Donations and Public Affairs Research (IDPAR) showed that 47 percent of corporations sponsored sports events, but 59 percent sponsored arts-related activities in 1984 (Hopkinson November 1986: 61).

Sponsorship reflects the correspondence of a corporate target market and the arts audience. Sponsorships are made from public relations, not donations, budgets.  Problems have been resorted, however.  Specifically, the control required by commercial sponsors to ensure that public relations objectives are achieved may sometimes clash with the artistic objectives of an arts organization.  No dollar figures are currently available concerning the scale of corporate sponsorship of arts-related events and activities.

Consumer Research

Beyond the role of the arts in advertising and marketing, trends in consumer research also suggest that the arts are playing an increasingly significant role in this area.  Many researchers have begun to question the dominance of the information processing model in consumer research. This model essentially views consumer behavior as a question of a consumer with a problem searching for information concerning the best product or service to solve his or her problem.  This model, however, is increasingly seen as neglecting important consumption phenomena, such as playful leisure activities, sensory pleasures, daydreams, aesthetic enjoyment, and emotional responses.  Thus, consumption is increasingly seen as involving a flow of fantasies, feelings, and fun.  This perspective regards consumption as a primarily subjective state of consciousness with a variety of symbolic meanings, hedonic responses, and aesthetic criteria (Holbrook, Hirschman 1982).

Drawing upon the pioneering work of Holbrook at Columbia University, one can identify six differences between traditional consumer research and what is known as consumer aesthetics.  These differences serve to highlight the ways in which the arts can enhance our understanding of consumer behavior (Holbrook 1986).

First, traditional consumer research focuses on the buying behavior or purchasing decisions of consumers at the expense of studying the consumption experience.  By contrast, almost everyone accepts the fact that aesthetic consumption entails an appreciative experience that is quite different from conventional market behavior.  This experience may range from simple pleasure to profound responses that are comparable to self-transcending states of spiritual ecstasy (Holbrook 1986: 4).

Second, conventional consumer theory generally assumes that a means-end relationship exists between the purchase of a commodity and some end objective.  For example, one buys a hammer and nails to build a house.  By contrast, aesthetic experience is intrinsically motivated and produces intrinsic values as ends in themselves; it is pursued for its own sake (Holbrook 1986: 5).

Third, consumer research generally views buying behavior as a rational decision-making process that begins with a desired goal leading to an assessment of the efficacy of alternative means, which then leads to the intentional act of buying a given product or service.  By contrast, aesthetic experience fits an arational paradigm of emotional reaction involving appreciative responses.  Although emotions may occasionally be brought under intentional self-control, they generally reflect non-intentional responses to uncontrolled aspects of the environment.  Such responses can be characterized as being moved.  Furthermore, an emotive response involves not only a reaction to cognitive elements but also physiological changes, expressive behavior, and phenomenological feelings (Holbrook 1986: 7).

Fourth, conventional research focuses on external factors that affect the exchange relationship, such as price, advertising, distribution, support services, and consumer demographics.  By contrast, consumer aesthetics focuses on design factors that are internal to the product or event of interest, such as tempo or complexity in visual design.

Fifth, traditional consumer research tends to use field-survey research to study the link between brand choices and external marketing variables, such as price and packaging.  For example, on a grocery store shelf, does red packaging sell better than blue?  By contrast, aesthetic responses can best be studied by laboratory experimentation techniques, many of which were developed by psychologists."

Finally, consumer research as generally practiced tends to view a product or a service as consisting of a series of distinct but additive components, such as color, weight, size, and similar factors.  By contrast, consumer aesthetics provides a fertile ground for the study of interactive or configural phenomena.  Artworks are universally regarded as gestalts in which all parts interact to produce a sense of organic wholeness or unity-in-variety.  Hence, research on consumer aesthetics must focus not just on additive cues but also on the overall impact of a product  (Holbrook 1986: 9).

The ReDecade

Another change in consumption behavior has resulted from the introduction of new technologies in combination with demographic change.  Through new recording technologies, especially video tape, consumers now have nearly universal visual access to the styles and tastes of all historic periods, at least as these are presented on television and in motion pictures.  We can watch the gangster movies or musicals of the 1930s or witness the French Revolution or Moses on the mountain.  We can replay anything time after time or erase it to capture the images and sounds of another time and place.

This access to the fashions and styles of historic periods has produced what Thomas Shales has called The ReDecade, a decade without a distinctive style of its own; a decade characterized by the pervasive stylistic presence of all previous periods of history.  The impact of this phenomenon on consumer behavior, at least in the short term, is confusing and disorienting.  Time has now become a significant dimension of consumer behavior. As noted by Shales,

It does seem obvious that here in the ReDecade . . . the possibilities for becoming disoriented in time are greater than they have ever been before. And there's another thing that's greater than it has ever been before: accessibility of our former selves, of moving pictures of us and the world as we and it were five, ten, fifteen years ago. No citizens of any other century have ever been provided so many views of themselves as individuals or as a society (Shales March 1988: 72).

Interestingly, art critic Robert Hughes, in his book entitled The Shock of the New (Hughes 1981) has pointed out that since the turn of the century, modern abstract painting has been increasingly concerned with the fourth dimension, Time, in contrast with the traditional dimension of Space.  Thus, abstract painting can be viewed as a precursor of the increasing disorientation in Time that is so characteristic of the ReDecade.  It is not yet clear what the long-term impact of the ReDecade will be on consumer behavior.  It is likely, however, that there will be a growing market for historic fashions, period piece furniture, and reproductions, as well as other consumer cultural durables.

Research and Development

There are three ways in which the arts industry serves to encourage technological change, a key characteristic of the Post-Modern economy.  First, the arts affect industrial invention, innovation, and diffusion of new technologies by reinforcing the creative process and by encouraging an innovative institutional climate. Many observers have recognized that the psychology of the creative process is an area of clear commonality between the arts and sciences.'  In both cases, creativity occurs when an individual steps beyond traditional ways of knowing, doing, and making (Jantsch 1975: 81).  

Second, the arts foster and promote a psychological and social climate in which invention, innovation, and diffusion of new technologies can more readily occur.  The arts sensitize entrepreneurs, managers, and employees to the context of change and enhance their ability to respond in a positive and constructive manner.  The need to increase the diffusion of industrial innovation within the Canadian economy is critical to future economic growth and development.'

Third, the arts are considered by some observers to be the most dynamic aspect of modern society.

Culture has become supreme for two complementary reasons. First, culture has become the most dynamic component of our civilization, out-reaching the dynamism of technology itself .... And, second, there has come about, in the last fifty years or so, a legitimation of this cultural impulse. Society now accepts this role for the imagination, rather than seeing culture, as in the past, as setting a norm and affirming a moral-philosophic tradition against which the new could be measured and (more often than not) censured. Indeed, society has done more than passively accept innovation; it has provided a market which eagerly gobbles up the new because it believes it to be superior in value to all older forms (Bell 1976: 33-35).

Within the arts industry, the fine arts play a role analogous to research and development (R&D) in other sectors of the economy.  It is here that we find the avant-garde or advance assault team.  Unlike other R&D activities, the arts do not benefit from the same tax expenditures and incentive grants.  As in other sectors, however, many R&D projects must be supported and high risks accepted if commercially viable and exportable products and processes are eventually to emerge.

Fourth, the arts act as a focus for small-scale entrepreneurial business.  The artist by nature is a risk-taking entrepreneur who does not readily submit to organizational goals.  The small-scale risk-taking firm is the normal structure in the arts industry. Within such firms, highly creative people can experiment and express their creativity without the constraints of bureaucracy (Galbraith 1973: 60).  Attempts by large-scale enterprises artificially to create artistic success have almost without exception been failures (The Economist 1980).

Today, increasing recognition is being given to small entrepreneurial business enterprise in high tech and other industries in order to manage highly creative people and encourage rapid technological change and innovation.  The arts industry was the first to adopt this type of industrial organizational structure.

The Information Economy

Another characteristic of the Post-Modern Era is the information economy (Porat 1977).  In this scenario, changes in information processing technology have created a new type of economy based upon the creation, processing, and storage of information.  Such activities currently account for more than 50 percent of all economic activity.  In a sense, the information economy means the monetarization of information, with both positive and negative implications for citizens.

The fine arts further the emergence of the information economy in four ways.  First, the fine arts, together with the pure sciences, represent the most information-rich form of production and consumption in an information economy.  Second, the commercial arts represent the largest single component of final demand by the general public in an information economy (Enchin July 1986).  Third, the fine and commercial arts are both information-rich and labor intensive, an unusual and helpful combination in a capital intensive information economy threatened by widespread unemployment.

Finally, the fine arts maintain the linkage with our collective cultural heritage and thereby provide some sense of continuity in a period of turbulent transformation.  They also provide artists and the general public with the opportunity for creative and emotionally satisfying applications of the new communications technologies, which otherwise will be dominated by the linear commercial rationality of business and government the fine arts can put a human face on the new technologies.  The artist will use these new technologies to create new forms of art but in the process will also create and develop a new generation of technologies in serendipitous response to the drive for artistic expression, not in causal response to the pursuit of productivity and profits.

The Crisis of Employment

There is a negative side, however, to the information economy scenario.  The new technologies, including robotics, may cause widespread long-term structural unemployment. When combined with cheap offshore production in the Third World, de-industrialization has resulted in growing concern about the creation of cheap but meaningful employment in First World economies.  The arts can assist in resolving some of these concerns.

Between 1971 and 1981, the Canadian labor force grew by 39 percent. During this same period, the arts labor force-individuals using arts-related skills in their day-to-day jobs-increased by 74 percent. In 1981, arts-related employment amounted to 4 percent of the total Canadian labor force (Graser 1984).

The arts are an extremely employment-efficient sector of the economy.  A 1983 comparison between all manufacturing industries and the performing arts reveals that, of every revenue dollar earned by manufacturing companies, only twenty cents was spent on salaries and wages.  In the performing arts, sixty-six cents of every revenue dollar was spent on salaries and wages (Research & Evaluation December 1987).  Average wages in the arts are less than half those in manufacturing; thus, the employment advantage of the arts is at least six-to-one.

There are other significant characteristics of artistic training or employment.  First, artistic jobs provide meaningful employment because workers receive a high degree of job satisfaction.  Artistic workers also exhibit strong career commitment in spite of an average income that is second only to pensioners as the lowest-paid occupational category recognized by Revenue Canada.

Second, employment in other sectors of the economy depends upon depreciating physical capital.  Employment in the arts, on the other hand, depends upon the appreciation of human capital and the increasing excellence of Canadian artistic production.  Appreciation of cultural capital is reflected in the increasing international success of Canadian artistic enterprises, such as the Stratford Festival, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and the Montreal Symphony.  Such enterprises take as long as ten years to mature to world-class status but can collapse in a single season (Bladen 1971).  Similarly, the maturation of artists such as Margaret Atwood, Alex Colville, Robertson Davies, Maureen Forrester, and Karen Kain generally takes decades of practice to reach world-class status.

Third, professional artists are highly educated.  They are an important part of Canada's stock of highly qualified person-power and contribute to the evolution of a Canadian cultural heritage to be shared by future generations.  The combination of highly qualified personnel and employment intensity suggests that support of the fine arts can be a cost-effective employment strategy that is complementary to a high technology industrial strategy, which by its very nature leads to declining employment in traditional sectors of the economy.

Fourth, there are also significant benefits of training in the arts for the general public.  University recruitment by major corporations is beginning to favor arts and humanities graduates in preference to MBAs. Recruiters are fording that arts and humanities graduates are more well rounded in terms of social and communications skills and more flexible in terms of career' development than are business administration graduates.

There is a negative side to the emerging narrowcast economy.  A cultured person in the European tradition is one who is well rounded.  The cultured European is interested in and knowledgeable about literature, `' painting, cuisine, dance, and theatre, not just about work.

The North American tradition, however, is characterized by specialization, particularly with respect to production skills.  The result is a one-dimensional person who knows everything about his or her business and little or nothing about life in general.  Even when North Americans decide to enhance their cultural appreciation, it tends to be one dimensional.  One tends to specialize in selected activities, such as wine tasting' or specific types of theatre or painting.

There is also a negative side to the emerging narrowcast economy.  The concept of a cultured person in the European tradition is one who is well rounded.  The cultured European is one who is interested in, and knowledgeable about, literature, painting, cuisine, dance and theatre, and not just about work.  The North American tradition, however, is characterized by specialization, particularly  with respect to consumption skills.  The result is the one-dimensional person who knows everything about his or her business, and little or nothing about life in general.  Even when the North American decides to enhance his or her cultural appreciation, it tends to be one-dimensional.  One tends to specialize in selected activities such as wine tasting or specific types of theatre or painting.  Rounding is not generally the objective.  Increasingly, however, even major corporations are realizing that a rounding of perspective is essential if executives are to become leaders, not just managers.  These corporations are spending more and more on liberal arts programs to ensure that their executives can talk to staff and customers about life, not just about business (Gutis 1985: F17).



It is also a paradox that, with the exception of individual scholars dedicated to arts and culture research, the university-the nominal center for research in our society-may in fact not be the appropriate medium for transdisciplinary arts research.  In assessing the role of the university in arts research, it is important to recognize that arts research is a subfield of policy research-it is not a discipline of thought.  In this sense, the arts are similar to other meta-policy issues, such as poverty, philanthropy, and productivity.  In the final analysis, arts research requires the application of all the social sciences, including psychology, as well as the humanities.  While methodological standards must be maintained, the inherent subjectivity of the arts-what is one person's art treasure is another person's garbage-compels a relativism not found in discipline-based university research.

Art, according to some, is an attempt to represent through the use of a sensuous medium the actual or ideal, the things we perceive or the underlying nature of reality, by imitating their appearance or their formal structure. Others view art subjectively as the manifestation of pleasure or emotion. At times, art is interpreted as psychic symbol; at other times, it is seen as the symbol of feeling. It has been construed as a mode of expression, and it has been rendered as a special language through which communication can take place. It is a free, self-gratifying activity resembling play, the manifestation of the inner workings of the universal Will, or direct intuitive vision. Moreover, each theory purports to give an exclusive and comprehensive account of what art is; each seizes upon undeniable features of art and casts them into a meaningful mold. It would appear almost as if the laws of logic were here suspended and that all the explanations, however incompatible with one another, were collectively true (Berleant 1969: 163-85).

Social scientific research concerning the arts began in the United States in the mid-1960s with the publication of Alvin Toffler's The Culture Consumer: Art and Affluence in America (Toffler 1965) and the path-breaking The Performing Arts: The Economic Dilemma by William Baumol and William Bowen (Baumol, Bowen 1966).  In 1972, Kenneth Boulding wrote his seminal Toward the Development of a Cultural Economics, which delineated the transdisciplinary nature of arts research (Boulding 1972).  In 1976, United States' arts research became formalized with the creation of the research division of the National Endowment for the Arts.  A year later, the first cultural research journal - The Journal of Cultural Economics - was launched.

With respect to cultural economics, four international conferences have been held to date: Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1979; Amsterdam in 1982; Akron, Ohio, in 1984; and Avignon, France, in 1986.  The Fifth International Conference of Cultural Economics (the theme of which is "The United Nations' Decade of Cultural Development 1988 to 1997") will be held in Ottawa in September 1988.  Over one hundred scholars from more than fourteen countries will present papers on such diverse subjects as the role of Stalinist dogma in cultural support in Hungary to the comparative cost of pipe organs in the eighteenth and twentieth centuries.

Arts research in the United States has tended to be concentrated in departments of urban studies, reflecting the role of the arts in the amenities theory of industrial location.  In 1982, however, a new journal - The Journal of Arts Management and Law - entered the field.  In 1985, the Research Center for the Arts and Culture was created at Columbia University in New York City, co-sponsored by the faculties of fine arts, business administration, and law. Headed by Joan Jeffri, the center's advisory board includes William Baumol, the godfather of empirical economic arts research.

In the United Kingdom, arts research began in the late 1950s, but continuing research only became established in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  Since that time, the Gulbenkian Foundation has been active in commissioning arts research.  A new focus for arts research emerged at City University in London with the creation of its faculty for arts policy and management and the publication of a new journal in 1984, the Journal of Arts Policy and Management.  The journal does not cover empirical or social scientific research but functions in a philosophic rather than a scientific tradition.  At present, the Policy Studies Institute serves as a focus for empirical and social scientific arts research in Great Britain.

In western Europe, a network of arts and cultural research centers called the Cultural Information and Research Centres Liaison in Europe (the CIRCLE) was created in 1984.  This network provides a focus for research and international comparative analysis.  The Council of Europe played a major role in the development of the CIRCLE and publishes a regular newsletter, Cultural Policy, which outlines research developments in the community.  Similar centers of arts research have been created beginning in the early 1980s in most Eastern European countries.  Such centers are generally called "Arts Research Institutes," such as the All Union Arts Research Institute in Moscow.  Many have a cultural economics department or division.  Since the early 1970s, UNESCO has also played a major role in the development of cultural statistics around the world (Chartrand 1988a).

In Canada, arts research began in the early 1970s with research commissioned by the Canada Councils (Bladen 1971; Urwick, Currie & Partners 1972; Pasquill 1973; Sullivan 1973; Panasuk 1974; Bailey, Courtney, Dixon 1976).   The Council, however, gradually withdrew from the field in the mid-1970s in response to the creation of the federal Cultural Statistics Program.  This program was intended to rationalize cultural research and statistical activities at the federal level.  The rationale of the program was that the Canada Council and the cultural agencies had the problem, the Department of the Secretary of State (later the Department of Communications) had the money, and Statistics Canada had the expertise.  In response to the generally recognized failure of the program to satisfy the needs of the professional nonprofit fine arts community, the Canada Council created the Research and Evaluation Section in 1981(Research & Evaluation March 1987).   Recent developments confirm the erosion of the original mandate of the federal Cultural Statistics Program.  Increasingly, Statistics Canada is transferring responsibility (but not resources) for surveys, data collection, and maintenance concerning the nonprofit arts to the cultural agencies, including the National Library and the Canada Council.

Most Canadian academic arts research is focused on the sociological study of leisure. The exception is the University of Waterloo, which has created the Waterloo Arts Research Group (WARG). A journal of Society and Leisure (Loisir et Societe) is published by the University of Quebec at Trois-1Rivieres.  There are, however, no Canadian equivalents of The Journal of Cultural Economics, The Journal of Arts Management and Law, or Journal of Arts Policy and Management.  Similarly, there are no Canadian private foundations that actively and regularly fund cultural research on the scale of the Gulbenkian Foundation in the United Kingdom, or the Ford Foundation and the Twentieth Century Fund in the United States.  Recently, however, the Dormer Foundation has commissioned Professor Christopher Maule of Carleton University to undertake a major study of the Canadian cultural industries.

The question arises as to why (with the exception of the Research Center for the Arts and Culture at Columbia University and WARD in Canada) there are no formal programs of arts research in universities.  First, traditional disciplinary structures tend to limit investigation to disciplinary or departmentally acceptable questions and dimensions of the arts.  A number of cases have been reported to the author involving scholars being subjected to departmental questioning concerning the relevance of arts research with respect to departments of urban studies and economics, for example.  In a disciplinary faculty, it is generally not possible or acceptable for career development to include integrated transdisciplinary analysis such as that required by arts research.  Consider, for example, the distinction between the traditionally based economics of culture and transdisciplinary cultural economics.  The economics of culture is the study of the allocation of scarce resources within the cultural sector.  It assumes that objective laws apply to economic behavior regardless of cultural differences.  It places emphasis on the absolute nature of economics and the application of abstract mathematical techniques.  The seminal and leading exponent of the positivist economics of culture is William Baumo1(Baumol, Bowne 1966).  It is this scientific approach that is acceptable within economics departments.

Cultural economics, on the other hand, is the study of the evolutionary influence of cultural differences on economic thought and behavior (Chartrand 1987a).  Accordingly, cultural economics assumes that economic behavior varies according to cultural context and time period.  The seminal and leading exponent of transdisciplinary relativistic cultural economics is Kenneth Boulding (Boulding 1972). Within the economics profession, however, Boulding has been accused of "selling out to the biologists" because he adopts general systems theory to analyze economic and cultural phenomena.  In a disciplinary-prejudiced environment, it is difficult for scholars to adopt the relativistic transdisciplinary paradigm required for true arts research.

Second, provincial responsibility for education also tends to limit the cultural perspective of the university researcher to the immediate region and locality.  This is understandable to the degree that principal funding is provided by the province.  The exception to this general rule involves research that is commissioned either by the national government or by nationally based private foundations.  Third, the bilingual nature of cultural Canada, combined with regionalism, tends to foreclose university-based arts research that can address the distinct bilingual artistic traditions of Canada.  This problem is accentuated when the multicultural nature of artistic activity is included.  Given disciplinary, regional, linguistic, and ethnic biases, it is unlikely, in this author's opinion, that any university can succeed in creating a truly national, bilingual, and multicultural Canadian arts research institute.

As in other meta-policy sectors, it is more likely that a separate independent arts research center will be required to accommodate the transdisciplinary nature of arts research the Institute for Donations and Public Affairs Research, the Canadian Social Development Council, and the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy.  This has been the pattern in Eastern and Western Europe.  Such an institute should develop a first-class journal of cultural or arts research.  This would encourage individual scholars to investigate this important area and would also legitimize arts research in light of the "publish or perish" imperative of contemporary academic life.  A number of proposals to create such an institute have been advanced, both within and outside the university (Canadian Conference for the Arts 1981; Schafer 1982; Green 1986; Layton 1987; Chartrand1988).   Until now, none of these proposals has obtained the necessary funding or political and intellectual support. It is likely that within a few years, however, a Canadian cultural research institute will emerge and begin the long-term transdisciplinary data and theoretical development required to provide a clearer understanding of Canadian arts and culture.



We live in an age of paradox. On the one hand, science has become the hope and glory of our era.  On the other, a significant part of the population, perhaps a majority, lives in a world riddled by superstition, irrational beliefs, and ideological fanaticism. 

Similarly, at a time when objective fact and the infamous bottom line are the tests of all things in a supposedly secular society, the individual artist has become part of a new aristocracy or clergy in the service of what some consider the secular religion of the age.  The arts, generally thought to be intangible and frills in a bottom-line economy, have become (due to a fundamental demographic revolution involving rising levels of education, the increasing participation of women, and the aging of the population) a major force contributing to the competitiveness of the Canadian economy.  The university - the nominal center for research in our society - is chained by disciplinary, regional, linguistic, and ethnic biases that make it difficult if not impossible effectively to conduct transdisciplinary arts research. Accordingly, and with the exception of the individual scholar committed to culture and the arts, the future of arts research resides outside rather than inside the Canadian university, as is the case with other meta-policy research, such as poverty, philanthropy, and productivity.


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