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Title: Patterns of accountability: an organizational approach to community engagement in museums
Authors: Morse, Nuala
First Published: 31-Jul-2018
Publisher: University of Leicester
Citation: Museum and Society, 2018, 16 (2), pp. 177-186
Abstract: This paper considers the divergent and often contradictory registers of ‘community engagement’ in contemporary UK museum practice. The paper draws on an organizational study of a large local authority museum service and focuses on how community engagement is constructed across a range of museum professionals who use it for different purposes and outcomes. I argue that different departments make sense of community engagement through four patterns of accountability, each with complimentary and divergent logics reflecting a wider range of museum functions, demands and pressures. The tensions that arise are discussed. In the final part, the notion of ‘relational accountability’ (Moncrieffe 2011) is introduced to re-settle these divergent logics in order to argue for community engagement work that is grounded in a relational practice. The paper contributes to further theoretical and practical engagement with the work of participation in museums by bringing forward an organizational view to highlight the ways in which museum practice is mediated within organizational frames.
ISSN: 1479-8360
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © Nuala Morse, 2018. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License (, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, School of Museum Studies

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