Kulturarven - digitalisering og brugerinddragelse: En meningsgivende strategi for arkivvæsenet?

Elisabeth Bloch

Student thesis: Master executive thesis


Cultural Heritage - Digitization and user involvement- a meaningful strategy for the Archives? This Master’s thesis analyses the organizational discourse and rational myths of the archival field and explores the strategic potential of these phenomema. The analyses employs a combination of the discourse theory of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, the critical discourse theory of Norman Fairclough and new institutional theory as operationalized by David Scott. The thesis also employs a systemic approach to strategy as the lens through which the strategic potential of the discourse analysis and the analysis of rational myths is discussed. The analytical approach is based on the ontological assumptions about the nature of social (and therefore also organizational) life, that social phenomena are socially constructed, ie people’s concepts of the world they live and act within contribute to its reproduction and transformation; and that social phenomena are socially constructed in discourse. While Laclau and Mouffe limit themselves to identifying the presence and forms of combination of recurrent and relatively stable and durable ‘discourses’ in texts, Fairclough claims that discourse is an element of social life which is dialectically interconnected with other elements, and may have constructive and transformative effects on other elements. New-institutionalism is a theory that focuses on developing a sociological view of institutions - the way they interact and the way they affect society. Much of the research deals with the pervasive influence of institutions on human behavior through rules, norms, and cultural-cognitive mechanisms. Meyer & Rowan have pointed out how different forms of rationality have created different rational myths about the function and effectiveness of institutions in the course of history. DiMaggio & Powell have pointed out, that organizations within a given domain, become increasingly homogeneous and increasingly organized around rituals of conformity because of their quest for legitimacy. The object of analyses of the thesis is limited to The National Archives of Denmark and the way it presents itself and its purpose in a selected number of official documents. These documents are read against reports from the Danish Agency for Culture concerning digitization of the cultural heritage and outreach/ under involvement. I conclude that the National Archives of Denmark have consciously and with great success tried to establish the organization as legitimate by striving to fulfill the request for effectiveness established by the norms of New Public Management. But they have failed – or consciously rejected – to relate to the professional myths of the archival field, thereby excluding themselves from tapping into the strategic potential of a postmodernist approach to the purpose and functions of the archives. A postmodernist approach to the meaning and functions of the archives would be sensitive to the way the archives interfere in the construction of historical meaning. Its appraisal policies would be sensitive to the citizens, not just the state, to the marginalized and the unsuccessful as well as the accepted and the successful, so that archival holdings would become inclusive and democratic. The 38 focus of archival activities would shift from content to context, and the justification for the archives would shift from being grounded in the concepts of the nation state and its scholarly elites to broader socio-cultural justifications grounded in public policies of accountability, freedom of information, and a wider public. The thesis claims that a postmodernist approach to its own purpose and functions would allow the archives a new perspective for tapping into the dynamic potential of the internet and digitization projects as well as the possibility of nurturing new communities and networks of users.

EducationsMaster of Public Governance, (Executive Master Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages38