Evaluate the impact of cultural policies in two democratic states.

 The cultural policy of any state is instrumental in shaping the identity and destiny of its people. It is the embodiment of shared values and beliefs, giving birth to societal norms, traditions, and institutions. In democratic societies, these policies become a complex blend of various ideologies, accommodating the diversity and plurality inherent to democracy. This essay explores the impact of cultural policies in two democratic states - Sweden and the United States - focusing on their roles in promoting social cohesion, diversity, and national identity. It evaluates the arguments presented by key historians and provides a well-substantiated critical analysis of the subject.

In Sweden, cultural policies have traditionally aimed to promote social cohesion and national unity. According to Professor Lars Trägårdh of Ersta Sköndal Bräcke University College, Sweden's cultural policy, rooted in the ethos of the "Swedish Model" or "Folkhemmet" (people's home), has promoted a strong sense of shared national identity. Policies like universal welfare provision and state-supported cultural activities have fostered social solidarity and egalitarianism, defining Swedish identity as one of consensus and social justice. Cultural institutions like the Swedish Film Institute and the Swedish Arts Council, supported by the government, have played pivotal roles in disseminating this sense of shared identity. They have crafted a narrative that emphasizes social cohesion, equality, and welfare. This narrative has played a crucial role in consolidating the Swedish welfare state and fostering high levels of social trust. Trägårdh argues that these policies, which also include an emphasis on language learning and cultural participation, have been successful in mitigating social division and promoting a sense of shared national identity.

Conversely, cultural policies in the United States have taken a different route, primarily due to the country's pluralistic nature. The United States, as a nation of immigrants, has grappled with its diverse ethnic and cultural composition. This diversity, according to Professor Eric Foner of Columbia University, has shaped the direction of American cultural policies. Unlike Sweden, the United States' cultural policies have not sought to build a singular national identity but have encouraged the proliferation of multiple, often competing identities. Public institutions like the National Endowment for the Arts and the Smithsonian Institution, both federally funded, have sought to represent and celebrate the diversity of American society. These institutions promote a vision of American culture as a 'melting pot' of diverse identities. They have facilitated the preservation and promotion of various cultures, enabling immigrant communities to maintain their unique identities alongside their new American ones. Foner notes that this pluralistic approach to cultural policy has contributed to a vibrant, dynamic, and multicultural society.

However, the impacts of these cultural policies, though broadly positive, are not without controversy. In Sweden, while Trägårdh lauds the success of the Swedish model, other historians such as Professor Bo Rothstein argue that this approach may inadvertently suppress cultural diversity and minority voices in the pursuit of national unity. By prioritizing a shared national identity, these policies can marginalize those who do not fit the prescribed model. Similarly, in the United States, the celebration of diversity through cultural policies has come with its own set of challenges. While these policies foster an environment where multiple identities can thrive, critics like Professor Samuel Huntington have argued that they also contribute to societal fragmentation and a lack of shared national identity, potentially leading to social conflict.

In conclusion, the cultural policies of both Sweden and the United States illustrate the varying roles such policies can play within democratic states. While Sweden has used its cultural policies to promote social cohesion and a shared national identity, the United States has focused on embracing diversity and the coexistence of multiple identities. These varying approaches reflect the distinct socio-political contexts of each nation, and the historical and contemporary challenges they face. However, both approaches carry inherent trade-offs between promoting unity and accommodating diversity. Understanding these trade-offs and navigating them effectively is crucial for the development and evolution of cultural policies in democratic states. The study of Sweden and the United States provides valuable lessons in this regard, offering a complex and nuanced understanding of cultural policies' impacts in democratic societies.