This paper builds on recent debates within cultural policy and cultural studies, arguing that questions of cultural meaning-making processes need to be taken into account when assessing accessibility issues discussed in current academic and political contexts. Approaching opera as a cultural phenomenon in the context of a minority culture, the paper focuses on the alleged democratization process entailed by digitalization. Departing from the division between the democratization of culture, referring to the dissemination of cultural works to those lacking access, and cultural democracy, in short, to value the subjective judgement of taste, the paper aims to investigate the connections between the meaning of opera and the cultural context in which this meaning is conceptualized. The opera culture among the Swedish-speaking Finns, a small, heterogeneous language minority, is used as a case study. The paper concludes that as long as the cultural meaning of opera is to stand for valuable, high culture, attempts to democratize opera will lead to new renegotiations between the high and the common. Understanding such connections between cultural policies concerning digital accessibility and cultural meaning is especially important in the post-pandemic era.
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