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Reporting period: 2020-02-01 to 2021-07-31

Europe and the world have undergone fundamental changes over the last thirty years, most notably globalization, European integration, migration, increased social inequalities and digitalization. However, cultural policies have not kept pace with these changes. INVENT investigates how European citizens perceive and understand changes which globalization, European integration, migration, social inequalities and digitalization have been bringing into their everyday life, everyday culture, and cultural participation. INVENT also pays due attention to the impact of migration on the multiplication of understandings of culture and its societal values.

By developing new perspectives and improved methodologies for capturing the wider societal value of culture, the INVENT project supports the values of culture that are vital for the preservation and improvement of the European project. This will enhance both the social legitimacy and the impact of cultural policies.
By supporting the creation effective and inclusive policies and institutional frameworks, INVENT contributes to the abilities of European citizens to cope with current cultural and societal transformations. The enhancement of the accessibility of culture will increase the well-being of European citizens, as well as societal inclusiveness, tolerance, and social cohesion.
To identify the multiple concepts of culture among various social groups in European societies, in order to gain an understanding of the societal values of culture in these different contexts, the INVENT consortium has executed an exploratory survey with (mainly) open questions (summer of 2020), followed by a large-scale quantitative survey (April-July 2021) in all member countries among representative samples of the population. In addition, the consortium conducted secondary analysis of Eurobarometer data and executed a content analysis of Twitter data from each of the participating countries, collected through the relatively novel method of online data scraping.

The data collected through the large-scale quantitative survey among more than 14,000 respondents across nine European countries contain comprehensive information about the concepts of culture, viewpoints on culture and cultural policy, perceptions of European culture, cultural practices and values that are prevalent among different social groups in each of the nine countries.

The analysis of Twitter data from each of the participating countries resulted in a broad depiction of the multiple ways in which people discuss topics related to culture in different European countries and hence contributed to the identification of the multiple concepts of culture in a digital online environment
The completion of the afore-mentioned quantitative survey data collection represents a major step towards the goal of identifying how people perceive and understand the megatrends of immigration and increasing diversity on the one hand, and globalization and migration on the other hand. The online data scraping analysis also yielded valuable insights on how Twitter users in different European countries perceive and discuss the social and cultural impacts of migration and increased cultural diversity their respective countries.

To gain insight into European citizens’ perceptions of IT and the changes they bring about in different spheres of life, several questions have been included in the large-scale survey and our first analyses yielded preliminary insights. The exploratory survey and the analysis of Twitter data also yielded useful insights into people’s engagement in digital cultural activities and their valuation thereof, as well as their employment and appreciation of digital platforms and digital alternatives for off-line, in-person cultural participation.

One of the key objectives to the INVENT project is to assist (local, national and EU) governments in making culture equally accessible to all European citizens. The global trend of increasing social inequalities renders this objective all the more challenging. That is why the consortium aims to identify how Europeans from various social groups perceive existing inequalities in society, and how these views on inequality relate to attitudes on inclusiveness, tolerance and social cohesion. With the INVENT survey, the consortium has collected unique data on people’s socio-economic positions, their perceptions of social and cultural inequalities, and attitudes on inclusiveness, tolerance, and social cohesion.

The objective of understanding how various concepts of culture and cultural participation relate to well-being, tolerance, and cultural openness at the individual level has been investigated in the first 18 months of the INVENT by incorporating this theme into the large-scale survey, and initial quantitative analyses have been executed. We explored various measurements and predictors of cultural openness, and looked into the relationship between cultural participation and well-being against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, which of course had a great impact on the possibilities of cultural engagement and participation.

A main task that we have for ourselves in this project is to identify the cultural and social preconditions required for the goals of the New EU Agenda for Culture to be realized. To this end, the INVENT consortium executed a secondary analysis of research on cultural policies from various resources (e.g. the Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe and prior studies on national and European cultural policies). This enabled us to map out the context of our terrain and provided data on indicators that are more difficult to obtain. Drawing on the survey data we also looked into societal support for public funding of culture, examining how Europeans perceive the importance of public funding for various areas of culture.

As the project has been proceeding, INVENT members have reached out and engaged with cultural policy officers on national, regional and municipal levels, which has led towards additional insights in how policy officers are working to innovate their policy models towards becoming more inclusive. We will yield these liaisons with policy officers to learn about the innovations that are taking place in the ongoing practice of policy making and to study their outcomes.
The project is steadily on its way to producing the European Inventory of Societal Values of Culture, which will be designed to serve as a sustainable resource in the formation of inclusive cultural policies in Europe.
Intended results of INVENT until the end of the project are:
- A comprehensive understanding of how Europeans perceive culture, cultural practices and the impact thereof in their everyday life
- New methodologies for capturing the societal values of culture in contemporary societies
- Improvement of statistical data and methods for capturing cultural impacts
- The development of effective tools for measuring, understanding and enhancing the impact of cultural policies.