Currid, E. and Williams, S. (2010). The geography of buzz: art, culture and the social milieu in Los Angeles and New York. _Journal of Economic Geography_, 10(3):423.

Sarah Williams, MCP from MIT, is Co-Director of Spatial Information Design Lab and Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation (GSAPP). She researches the intersection of technology and the urban realm, with a particular focus on using mobile computing to better understand urban spaces.

The authors, using a large, unique dataset from the industry’s gold standard in event media coverage, Getty Images, study the social milieu specific, ungeneralizable ethnographies (Lloyd, 2005), and the large-scale commodification of cultural production simultaneously across geographies. They have five findings that substantiate the belief that “buzz” (Storper & Venables, 2004) is not limited just to the cultural economy.

  1. Art’s social consumption is “not spatially random” (3); rather, cultural events take place “within very narrow geographic spaces” (ibid) and less popular “cultural nodes” cluster around the primary ones, presumable for “spillover benefits” (ibid).
  2. Following Molotch’s (2002, 2003) “place in product” concept, popular places reinforce their own desirability.
  3. Locations with statistically higher rates of event occurrence, “event enclaves” are typical across all cultural sectors.
  4. Just as iconic buildings are used to garner publicity for events, it’s as likely they become iconic for their unique capacities to host megaevents — mundane logistics matter.
  5. And just as the social milieus and cultural events cluster, so do the media that cover them. There are a “finite number of places that the media documents over and over again” (21), thereby reinforcing the prestige of certain events and places above others, thus strengthening the virtuous circle that the popular events will be covered b the proximate media outlets.

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Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Cultural Economy, Minor Field, Research Fields


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