Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage
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Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage

Edited by Ilde Rizzo and Anna Mignosa

Cultural heritage is a complex and elusive concept, constantly evolving through time, and combining cultural, aesthetic, symbolic, spiritual, historical and economic values. The Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage outlines the contribution of economics to the design and analysis of cultural heritage policies and to addressing issues related to the conservation, management and enhancement of heritage.
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Chapter 18: Heritage and local development: a reluctant relationship

Gregory J. Ashworth


Heritage, as process and experience, is a contemporary creation designed to serve many contemporary uses, both individual and collective. As such it has become endowed with many public policy expectations, some of which are concerned with economic development not least at the local scale. However, although heritage possesses many economic dimensions and plays many roles in local development strategies, only rarely are economic considerations paramount in the selection and management of heritage resources and only rarely is heritage the main support or justification for economic development. Herein lies the ambivalences in this reluctant relationship between heritage as a ubiquitous, flexible and multi-used resource and the many instrumental roles it is expected to play in, largely local, economic development policies. As much, but not all, heritage is place-bound and heritage is a major contributor to the identification of people with specific places, it becomes inextricably involved in local place images, identities and economic geographies. Heritage, therefore, is frequently called upon to perform many instrumental roles in, largely local, economic development strategies as commercial activity in itself, as a location factor for other economic enterprises, as a contributor to environmental amenity and local identity, as a constituent of place image promotion and branding, and as a frequently catalytic element in neighbourhood regeneration.

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