Princeton University Library Catalog

THE WAY WE SEE: A Cultural and Public Policy Framework through a Qualitative Analysis of East Asian Cinema

Chang, Samuel [Browse]
Senior thesis
Prichard, Franz [Browse]
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs [Browse]
Class year:
110 pages
Summary note:
During the ‘90s, the question of culture, its regulation, and its connection with government policy stirred up a fiery political debate centered on artistic decency and the freedom of expression. This era, later recognized as “The Culture Wars,” would highlight an increasing ideological rift between America’s political parties about how to manage and regulate cultural works. After the passing of the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act of 1965, which created two separate endowment funds to support these cultural artworks, the notion of cultural policy and its significance in the policy arena surfaced among policymakers, politicians, and academic researchers. Today, institutions like Princeton University have cultivated a field of academic study in order to encourage more research in this area. Unfortunately, modern cultural policy studies fall short in the level and depth of analysis required for policymakers to both understand the artworks they touch and make the proper decisions regarding funding and regulation. Currently, much effort has focused on quantitatively modeling culture and its various artistic forms, rather than subjectively and qualitatively examining the mediums themselves. This thesis posits a new methodology framework for cultural and even public policy—one that attempts to experience art, wrestle with the discourses and dialogues it may convey, and relay the hidden perspectives that are brought in conversation with historical and modern policy issues. It borrows from the qualitative research designs of education policy and sociology ethnographies in order to show that film, as evidence and data, can be explored like school hallways, conversed with like interviews and conversations, and subjectively experienced like a microcosm of society and the world. Specifically, this thesis uses film analyses of East Asian film in Japan and South Korea in order to reveal dialogues surrounding the influences of foreign and occupation policies on the respective nations. Based on the results of these subjective readings, these films were found to highlight hidden policy issues—issues that the previous cultural policy framework would have never found if not for the explicit and subjective engagement with film. This thesis makes no claim regarding cultural policy practices itself, but rather posits a new understanding as to the way we see the policy field through cinema and artistic mediums. Film and art, and an active and subjective engagement with these materials, then, serve as essential information, data, and sites for future cultural and public policy research.