With the ‘cultural turn’, the concept of culture has assumed enormous importance in our understanding of the interrelations between social, political, and economic structures, patterns of everyday interaction, and systems of meaning-making. In The SAGE Handbook of Cultural Analysis, the leading figures in their fields explore the implications of this paradigm shift. Addressed to academics and advanced students in all fields of the social sciences and humanities, this Handbook is at once a synthesis of advances in the field, with a comprehensive coverage of the scholarly literature, and a collection of original and provocative essays by some of the brightest intellectuals of our time.

Cultural Property1

Cultural property

In this chapter I address some recent transformations in the constitution of property, and in particular in the evolving forms of ownership of cultural material. The context for this discussion is the evolution in recent years of quite new kinds of objects of ownership: Carol Rose gives the examples of ‘internet domain names, frozen reproductive tissue, and tradeable pollution allowances’ (Rose, 2004: p. 275), and we could think as well of such things as trademarked colour combinations, the Kraft Corporation's exclusive rights to the use of the word ‘real’ as it relates to cheese (McLeod, 2001: p. 1), or David Bowie's sale to investors of future revenue streams from a number of his albums (Steyn, 1997).

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