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Traditional Craftsmanship as Intangible Cultural Heritage and an Economic Factor in Austria

Study of the Austrian Commission for UNESCO commissioned by the Austrian Federal Chancellery and the Austrian Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs

Traditional craftsmanship in Austria, if it is to survive, is in need of a new self-understanding and increased public awareness of its value to society. Entire occupational fields are threatened with extinction along with their associated bodies of knowledge and skills, and it is high time that these negative tendencies be countered—not only as a sustainable answer to global mass-market production and excessive consumption, but also in the interest of providing future generations with training and career opportunities that are both sensible and promising.

The present study surveys the state of traditional craftsmanship in Austria for the first time. On the basis of both qualitative and quantitative data, it seeks to define and analyse the parameters within which traditional craftsmanship exists, as well as traditional craftsmanship’s relative degrees of endangerment and future importance in terms of cultural policy and the economy. This study thus represents an essential step toward creation of an esteeming perception of traditional craftsmanship both as cultural heritage and as an economic factor.