A Textbook of Cultural Economics

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Consider, for example, the chapter that introduces the creative industries Chap. Towse begins by describing how the creative industries have been defined and classified by international organizations and national governments. Embedded within this tsunami of information bytes are continual references to related discussions in other chapters, in this case Chaps.

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This example is not an outlier; the pattern is repeated in every chapter. So, in the chapter on production, costs, and supply of cultural goods Chap. In the chapter on the economics of the performing arts Chap. The book also fails to meet the fifth criterion for a good textbook: ease of navigation and strong visual appeal. It is not easy to navigate—section and subsection headings are difficult to distinguish from one another, chapter numbers are few and far between, and page numbers are difficult to see. Neither does it have much visual appeal—there is no color, relatively few charts or tables, and no illustrations or photographs.

There are a number of inset boxes, about half of which consist of mini-biographies of economists who have influenced the field of cultural economics, and half that provide information or data relevant to the topic being discussed in that section. These boxes can be interesting, but they can also be rather beside the point—for example, Box As the instructor for an undergraduate course on the economics of the arts and culture—a course that does not require students to have much previous exposure to economics—it is the rapid-fire treatment of complex topics and their non-sequential presentation, not the unexciting graphics and layout, that would make me unlikely to assign this book as a text.

But there are other reasons for my lack of enthusiasm. I am uncomfortable with the almost apologetic way in which Towse often introduces economic concepts and analytical tools, and I find her characterization of certain aspects of economics simplistic. I think all would agree that there are limitations to economics, as there are to all academic disciplines but her example does not make this point.

A Textbook of Cultural Economics

Economists have long recognized that non-monetary factors are important drivers of economic behavior; the idea of compensating wage differentials traces back to Adam Smith. If so, her criticism is not applicable to most current economic research. In any case, it does not make much sense to disparage the expository tools that she herself uses throughout the book to illustrate basic principles. In conclusion, I do not believe that A Textbook of Cultural Economics will see widespread use as a textbook.

A Textbook of Cultural Economics

I, for one, will be sticking to the combination of Heilbrun and Gray plus Caves until either or both are updated or a better alternative comes along. However, this does not mean that A Textbook of Cultural Economics will sit unopened on my shelf. We use this information to create a better experience for all users.

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How culture determines economic status

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