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Policy

The new actors playing the leading roles in the cultural panorama are private companies.

role that enabled them to be at the helm of key cultural turns. The change of opinions, social and economic behaviour, rests on various elements – often less pondered but with great penetration force – mixed with consumption patterns, trends and fashion, with job and money choices and with the persuasive ability that the gurus of our times may express. Second question. Who are the real gurus displaying the ability to aggregate behaviours and enabling ideas to evolve? Of course, intellectuals are still at the forefront, sometimes constrained by TV formats dwindling their narrative skills. But they are not alone. They must come to terms with other individuals, often more impromptu from the point of view of the thought structure, but equally able to launch new, effective and quick visions as well as to create fresh relations amongst social areas, widespread behaviours, symbols and values, revolutionizing the cultural scenario. Marc Zuckerberg, tapping emerging technologies, created Facebook before it was clear – even to himself – what cultural orientations this social network would have promoted. And so the old classical analytical thinking – disciplinary and “vertical” – must come to grips with successful new thinking – antidisciplinary and “horizontal.” This is no easy task because there is often a time lag and while analytical thinking is still formulating a “discourse,” others – the new thoughts – have already become mass behaviour. So, whoever the gurus may be, the effects of their reflections or their inventions spread in a way in which the written word can no longer represent the primary tool, but it only becomes a witness. The third question is about the actors of change. How are the actors arranged in the cultural scenario? Who produces the most significant effects while envisaging new horizons and who, on the other hand loses his/her credibility in designing a new future? Politics has lost its planning ability. From a social, economic, cultural and value point of view. In the industrialized countries there is a heated debate about what caused such phenomenon, but nobody denies that this has happened. Such fall dragged down – in a waterfall model – the credibility of public institutions. From local to national administrations up to universities and the whole school system which has not ceased to be the main educational point of reference, but it raises growing uncertainties and anxiety, as if it were slowly drifting away from what everybody senses as a “new reality.” So, politics and institutions are weaker and weaker as “culture creators.” So who does that?

Here is the most disruptive and creative aspect of the last three decades: the new actors playing the leading roles in the cultural panorama are private companies. Small and medium enterprises, multinationals or short supply chain businesses, historical or start-up entities, corporations or social enterprises, and then more flexible and innovative structures intercepting the third sector, voluntary work, up to exchanges of activities without monetary transactions. All in all, an extremely varied panorama of individuals from the world of work who took, more or less knowingly, the initiative to steer the new social and cultural attractors. It is a baffling role change. Businesses are the first to be bewildered, since in as little as two or three decades have realized they are in the limelight. Looking around, there is nobody else. And industrialists, entrepreneurs, managers would have never thought they would have to play a vicarious role compared to weak policies and a boundless social contract. They could have simply minded their own respective businesses, dealing with an increasingly messy and in-a-flux economy, without embarking on even more demanding challenges. But, actually, there is no alternative. Each company must come to grips with a complex context where success will depend not only on the possibility to sell a product or a service, but above all on the ability to interpret trends mirroring new citizens/ consumers’ needs. In other words, the market supply must embody a cultural model and those opting for the right one have a competitive advantage. The panorama is varied and these new cultural protagonists enter the fray with a different attitude. Some businesses sniff the problem without smelling its essence and choose to disguise themselves: they embrace, not without some gaucheness, over- the-top values and adopt, for example green washing as a decoy to attract the more sensitive members of the public. On the other side of the spectrum, there are intrinsically disruptive companies that are already where the transformation of lifestyle has occurred, because they were born there (for example the above-mentioned Facebook) and they gain from their position. These entities neither deny nor confirm the new role of companies: they simply conquer it in a way that is more similar to political success rather than the expansion of a company (actually Zuckerberg could convert effortlessly into a politician, relying on personal assets 20 times those of the current USA president).

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Renewable Matter #15  

Renewable Matter is the International Magazine focused on the changing relationship between Economy, Society and the Environment. It focuses...

Renewable Matter #15  

Renewable Matter is the International Magazine focused on the changing relationship between Economy, Society and the Environment. It focuses...