2. The changing context for culture statistics

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Since the publication of the 2004 Canadian Framework for Culture Statistics, radical changes have transformed the culture sector, in Canada and abroad, affecting our ability to measure it. Some of the elements that create this changing context for culture statistics are described in this section.


Globalization, interpreted as the effect of global popular culture on local cultures and local identities, acknowledges the expanding ties between people, companies, and nations. Commonly, globalization is viewed in terms of the often-negative impacts of global trade on the availability of domestic and local content products in importing nations. At the same time, globalization can enhance national identity by providing opportunities for the dissemination of local products, previously constrained by boundaries and trade restrictions, to new markets around the world. In either case, globalization increases the requirement for new types of data, particularly with respect to the supply and demand for domestic content, the volume of trade in foreign culture products, and the economic and social effects of international trade in culture.


The enormous role of the Internet and wireless technology in the dissemination and use of products, the introduction of e-commerce, and the ability of individuals to become creators, have all had a profound effect on culture. Digital technology has affected the traditional creative chain, encouraging distributors to tailor their products to meet individual consumer needs. In particular, the availability of new products on multiple platforms from a whole host of new sources geared to users of mediating products, such as portable digital tools, in turn encourages further the market for new culture products. These 'repurposed' products, and the new means of dissemination, feed the growing demands of Canadian consumers, who continue to be among the world's heaviest Internet users.1 The emergence of technology has also allowed individuals to self-publish/produce, market, distribute and sell their creations, diminishing their reliance on traditional means of production, distribution, and marketing. These changes have increased the complexity of the measurement of culture in terms of the sheer number of new products and platforms, and the increasing overlaps between traditional products, industries, and activities. Technology also allows individuals to use more than one culture product at the same time, such as playing a computer game while listening to music, or watching streamed television while downloading ringtones. Measurement and analytical techniques are not yet able to take into account many multiple activities, yet they are becoming more common with the ubiquity of consumer tools that increase access to culture products.


Worldwide, copyright legislation has had difficulty keeping up with new business models at the same time as culture content and formats are undergoing significant and regular transformations. Copyright issues related to free file sharing and downloading echo earlier concerns connected to audio or video tape copying, and raise issues about the role and rights of the creator. In the 1980s, industry players argued that home taping was killing recorded music (Denisoff and Schurk 1986); in the 21st Century, the impact of new technology on industry profitability remains unclear. The difference is that the issue of 'home taping' has expanded to including uncompensated downloading and file sharing, as well as the continuing problem of piracy, not only for music but for a broader variety of culture products, including books, magazines, films, videos, photographs, designs, and digital games. These issues complicate how we design and build tools that can measure the dissemination and use of culture products.

Changing nature of creation

The nature of creators has been expanding, having moved from the traditional and simpler dichotomy of amateur and professional creators, to include large numbers of individuals who are now able to express themselves and reach audiences more readily. New technologies have changed the ways that individuals interact with culture content. The role of creator, which has been sacrosanct in the measurement of culture, is now changed by the new role played by the Internet community where more people can participate in new ways. Individuals may take existing products and use them to create new products, or may use new technologies to create new types of products. An example might be the dubbing of original video footage with new voices or subtitles to change the intent and content of a video product, or the use of snippets of original music to form new 'sampled' music products.

The effects are wide reaching, particularly as many of these new products may enter the economic chain. According to research, in 2007, 93% of American teens used the Internet, while more than 64% of online teens were Internet 'content creators', sharing self-produced artwork, photos, stories, or videos on-line with others (Lenhart et al. 2007). This number is growing. Content placed on YouTube, for example, whether by amateurs or professionals, makes up a growing share of the audio-visual culture consumed by Canadians. In effect, this type of new content has resulted in the non-monetization of trade for some products, and in the repurposing of existing products for new uses. The repurposing reduces the ability of existing statistical tools to measure this new creation and use; traditional measures focus on time use or money spent, but are less concerned with the measurement of repurposing, the quantity of unpaid product or the frequency of activity. Both conceptually and methodologically, a statistical system must consider these significant issues in order to measure fully both the supply and demand for culture.

Content regulations

Policy and regulation have played an important role historically in ensuring the creation and availability of Canadian and French-language content products for the use of Canadians. These requirements remain today, intended to meet the challenge of producing domestic content in light of Canada's geographic location, the globalization of culture, the effect of the Internet on increased accessibility of foreign content, and Canadians' desire for more and better culture products. The measurement of content through culture statistics is challenging because most surveys focus on the revenue and spending by producers, rather than on the characteristics of the products themselves. Similarly, surveys on the use of culture products or participation focus on the expenditure of time or money rather than on the specifics of the transaction. It is expensive and difficult to measure the content of products, without specialized tools and investment, and without a long tradition of this type of survey methodology in Canada.

Demographic change

Demographic change continues to affect the creation and consumption of culture in Canada. The face of Canada is changing through immigration that exceeds the increases from natural population growth, an aging population, increased ethnic, religious, and racial diversity, greater levels of higher education, and an increasingly urbanized population. Demographic change will place pressure on existing culture institutions to adapt to the changing conditions and requirements of Canadian creators and consumers, and provides challenging opportunities for the development of products geared to the new Canadian marketplace.

Emerging social issues

The relationship between culture and a variety of social issues such as civic participation, health and well being, human capital, and social capital are emerging topics for culture. Researchers have suggested that the well-being of individuals and of society as a whole may be enhanced by culture. The consumption of culture products is said to give rise to social cohesion, due to the development of bonds between consumers of the same type of culture. Similarly, social capital, or networks that strengthen communities, is thought to be the result of the consumption of culture. Finally, a sense of national identity or "connectedness," can also be the result of culture. These issues can be explored through an analysis of culture and society.


Heritage has a variety of meanings to Canadians, ranging from the built and tangible evidence of history, such as historic places and heritage institutions, to the history, both tangible and intangible, that represents our personal and collective traditions. Measurement of the tangible evidence of our built, human, and natural heritage provides methodological challenges but is, nevertheless, an important part of current practices used to measure culture in Canada. The measurement of the intangible elements of our history, however, raises other difficulties, which, both conceptually and methodologically, are not broached systematically in current Canadian statistical practices. This framework acknowledges the importance of intangible heritage to Canadians, but does not attempt to measure it at this time.

Interdisciplinary activity

Many forms of creative activity do not fit easily into a single discipline or industry. Different terms and definitions are used across Canada, with even less comparability internationally for measurement. Common references to this type of activity are interdisciplinary arts, integrated arts and multidisciplinary arts.

Interdisciplinary arts encompasses art forms that involve more than one artistic discipline (music, theatre, dance, film, writing, visual arts) in which the forms are still recognizable but the final work goes beyond the boundaries of a single discipline. Integrated arts combine two or more artistic processes or practices to create a distinct art form. Finally, multidisciplinary arts encompass forms of expression, which use several disciplines and whose practices, language, and works lie outside of recognized artistic forms. According to the Canada Council for the Arts, these growing practices have a broad scope of activity that focuses on pluralistic, hybrid and interdisciplinary art practices. Conceptually, this is still a new field from the point of view of measurement and funding.


Practices for the measurement of culture have changed dramatically since publication of the 2004 framework. There has been a long tradition at Statistics Canada for the collection of statistics on the key Canadian culture industries. From the 1980s to 2004, activity-based surveys measured the physical goods of the culture sector (number of films, books published, recordings released), the economic impact of supply and demand (expenses, revenue, employment) and characteristics of the products (language, type, origin). As of 2004, the culture statistics program was redesigned to move from activity-based census surveys to establishment-based sample surveys. This approach ensured that the application of the conceptual structure of the framework was in accordance with the methodology used for business surveys, thus allowing for the creation of a more coherent body of data. This approach, while ensuring the production of a regular, replicable and timely set of data on culture establishments, reduced the availability of some data on the characteristics of culture products.

There have been other changes to statistical practices. The 2004 framework employed the following classification systems to allocate industries, products and occupations: the Standard Classification of Goods (SCG), the Central Product Classification Version 1.1 (CPC), the 2002 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), and the 2001 National Occupational Classification – Statistics (NOC-S). In all cases, the classifications have changed and the framework requires updating. A new classification system for products, the North American Product Classification System (NAPCS), has replaced the use of the SCG and introduced new classes for services at Statistics Canada. While the provisional NAPCS is not yet used widely at Statistics Canada, it has begun to be employed to classify culture goods and services. In addition, NAICS 2007 has replaced NAICS 2002, while NOC-S 2006 has replaced NOC-S 2001. Implementation of the classification guide for the conceptual framework will require a pragmatic approach to using classification systems to identify the industries, products and occupations that are in scope for, or fall within, the Canadian Framework for Culture Statistics (CFCS) definition of culture. There will be a need to revise its application of new or revised classification systems on an on-going basis to guarantee the availability of up-to-date tools to measure culture.

Statistical frameworks are never final; they must evolve continually, reflecting the available tools, changing concepts and data requirements, and the needs of a variety of players. The 2004 framework acknowledged that there would be the need for a regular revision process, the CFCS reiterates this approach and encourages those who use this framework to note its shortcomings and possible improvements, to ensure that future iterations benefit from the experiences of its users.


  1. According to the 2009 Canadian Internet Use Survey (CIUS), 80% of Canadians used the Internet for personal reasons, and three-quarters of Internet users were online every day (Statistics Canada 2010b).
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