Contesting the Expert in the Big Society

Stella Jackson, 2018

Data copyright © Dr Stella Jackson unless otherwise stated

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Department of Archaeology
University of York
King's Manor
Exhibition Square

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Stella Jackson (2018) Contesting the Expert in the Big Society [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]


These data-sets form the appendices to a thesis entitled ‘Contesting the Expert in the Big Society: an Assessment of National and Local Significance in relation to Designation in England’ by Stella Jackson. The thesis can be found in the White Rose Ethesis Online depository here:

The abstract for the associated thesis is as follows:

As many in academia now argue, heritage significance is ascribed and not intrinsic to the asset in question. For designated sites in England, the significance ascribed by experts is that of ‘special interest’ in a national context with a resultant emphasis on, in the case of buildings, the more architecturally embellished examples. However, the majority of applications for statutory heritage designation are for everyday heritage assets which have significance to the local community. When assessed under the current criteria, many of these applications are turned down because the site is not thought to have enough special interest. There are therefore significant tensions between national, expert-assessed significance and locally ascribed social significance.

There has been little academic investigation of this particular area of dissonant heritage. This thesis, therefore, investigates this tension and considers opportunities to reduce it through the use of Local Heritage Lists and Big Society agenda outcomes such as neighbourhood planning. It does this through the analysis of 500 applications for statutory designation; collation and analysis of Local Heritage List data; and evaluation and analysis of data in relation to Assets of Community Value and Neighbourhood Development Plans. Empirical data for each of these has not previously been analysed or published. Its collation and use in this thesis thus adds significantly to our knowledge and understanding of why local communities wish to ‘save’ their everyday heritage, and the methods with which to do so.

In concluding, this thesis argues that a better understanding of the role and legacy of National significance in statutory designation, combined with making the most of opportunities at the local level, can help to reduce tension and better protect everyday heritage. This requires those in authority, however, to understand that heritage is not simply historic fabric; it is also a community asset.