By Clive Gray (auth.)
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In a similar vein, the ‘new museology’ (Vergo, 1989; Harrison, 1993; Stam, 1993) was not only concerned with opening up, and ‘democratising’, the museum but was also concerned with providing a mechanism for the creation of a new legitimacy for the museums sector as a whole. It is important to recognise that internal changes to policy systems do not necessarily need to be positive ones for any particular group within a society so long as the changes concerned produce an overall effect that allows the system as a whole to function effectively.
The rules for social conduct and organised action may be derived from ideological preferences, but getting them to operate with any effectiveness depends upon the willingness of societal members to abide by them. While this may seem to be rather a trivial point – without agreement about the rules then social life becomes immensely difﬁcult if not quite leading to a life that is ‘solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short’ in Hobbes’ terms (1997 , 70) – the consequences of failing to establish and maintain such an acceptance can be politically catastrophic for any system of power relations and organisational rule, as the experience of revolutionary change effectively demonstrates.
The national and global positions that are adopted by the various sets of participants in these debates provide a context for the development of the international politics of the museums sector that extends beyond the expression of cross-national differences. The relationship of these positions to matters of globalisation, imperialism, colonialism and post-colonialism has real meaning for the nature of the international frameworks within which museums function, and for the day-to-day practices that are undertaken within individual organisations and institutions.