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Changing practices - a qualitative study of drivers for change in Norwegian museums and archives

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posted on 10.07.2018, 09:21 by Ashild Andrea Brekke
Since the mid-1990’s, policy objectives and funding measures have been designed to encourage Norwegian museums and archives to embrace a more socially engaged practice. These governance initiatives, however, have often not achieved the goal of long-term effect: once funding stops, so do the projects, leaving little or no mark on institutional practice. Based on the premise that financial incentives are clearly insufficient in bringing about practice change, this thesis looks beyond the effect of project funding on institutional core attitudes, probing underlying factors which affect organisational practice in more depth. This thesis is situated within the methodological framework of Pierre Bourdieu’s practice theory and draws on qualitative methods such as semi-structured interviews, document analysis and survey data. The theoretical perspectives underpinning the thesis can be broadly grouped under two headings: the museum as idea and as organisation. The first one refers to the ideological nature of museums, its philosophy, purpose, power and ethos as an institution, and the second one to the practical manifestation of these ideas: organizational structure, culture and dynamics in and around the institution. The findings suggest that museum professionals are engaged in a complex balancing act, continually negotiating positions, priorities and relations both within and around the institution. Elements such as power and values play a part, as do professional identities, academic capital and personal engagement. This thesis argues that organisational change is ultimately contingent on individuals and the way they perceive their profession: the stronger the alignment of ideas, values and purpose between the individual and the organisation, the stronger the potential impact of the museum. To develop and sustain a socially engaged practice, museum directors need to create organizational resonance around the idea of the museum as an agent for social change, enabling it to amplify its social impact.



Sandell, Richard; Golding, Viv

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School of Museum Studies

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University of Leicester

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