Limits to Liberalization: Local Culture in a Global Marketplace / Edition 1

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The so-called culture industries—film, television and radio broadcasting, periodical and book publishing, video and sound recording—are noteworthy exceptions to the rhetorical commitment of Western countries to free trade as a major goal. These exceptions threatened to derail such high-profile negotiations as NAFTA and its predecessor, the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement, as well as the Uruguay Round of the GATT.

Conventional wisdom did not foresee trouble from this source, because these established industries are not commercial national champions, nor are they particularly large providers of jobs. As Patricia M. Goff shows, the standard trade literature considers the monetary value but doesn't recognize the symbolic importance of cultural production. In Limits to Liberalization, she traces the interplay between the commercial and the cultural. Governments that want to expand free trade may simultaneously resist liberalization in the culture industries (and elsewhere, including agriculture and health care).

Goff traces the rationale for "cultural protectionism" in the trade policies of Canada, France, and the European Union. The result is a larger understanding of the forces that shape international trade agreements and a book that speaks to current theoretical concerns about national identity as it plays out in politics and international relations.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Surprisingly, work in political science rarely, if ever, examines trade and culture together. Patricia Goff has rectified this blind spot in an impeccably clear and sophisticated analysis of how and why Canada, France, and the EU nurture local music, film, and literary industries against global economic odds. Goff's pathbreaking book sets a new and extremely high bar for how we think about the economics of identity production, and, indeed, conflicts within contemporary liberalism writ large. Readers will never see protectionism and culture in the same light again."—Cecelia Lynch, University of California, Irvine

"In this finely drawn and historically sensitive book, Patricia M. Goff argues that current conflicts over liberalization of international trade in the culture industries (as well as food and health) are not economic battles, and thus should not be interpreted solely with economic criteria or through the usual economic paradigms. Goff argues persuasively that cultural goods are not like manufactured goods. Because they are constitutive of national identities and reflections of those identities they merit state interventions in ways that mere manufactures don't."—Herman Schwartz, University of Virginia

Foreign Affairs

The "cultural exception" has been a contentious issue in trade negotiations for over half a century, especially when it is used to justify quotas that limit the showing of foreign (mainly U.S.) films in theaters and on television in France and the rest of Europe. Similarly, the distribution of print media has been an issue in Canada. This book attempts to provide a rationale for treating "cultural" trade differently from normal trade in economic relations among countries. It usefully describes the evolution and current state of Canadian, French, and European Union policies with respect to cultural issues, along with the current uneasy state of international agreement on these issues as embodied in the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Agreement. It fails, however, to note the deep tension between the traditional French rationale for cultural exceptions and current EU policies, which discriminate between European- and foreign-origin films and programs but not among those of European origin. Nor does it define clearly what the limits to cultural exceptions should be. If a country's leaders decide that having an indigenous steel or auto industry is essential to national self-esteem, should the resulting trade restrictions be permissible?<

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801444586
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2006
  • Series: Cornell Studies in Political Economy Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia M. Goff is Associate Professor of Political Science at Wilfrid Laurier University. She is the coeditor of Irrelevant or Indispensable: The United Nations in the 21st Century and Identity and Global Politics: Theoretical and Empirical Elaborations.
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