Molotch, H. (1996). LA as Design Product: How Art Works in a Regional Economy. In _The City: Los Angeles and Urban Theory at the End of the Twentieth Century_, A. Scott & E. Soja, eds. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

In this chapter of Scott’s and Soja’s LA School exegesis on why the study of LA is relevant to all postmodern urban studies, Molotch explains it is the very essence of Los Angeles that permeates the city’s — and the world’s — commercial industry.

“Using Los Angeles as a case study, I investigate how local aesthetics…affect what businesses produce and market. Local art is a factor of production” (225).

Molotch discusses the intersection of high and low arts and its interpretation (e.g. Bertoia claims Nude Descending a Staircase as his inspiration for his steel rod chair), and LA’s diverse cultural makeup on creation. Since 1990, LA has been home to as many “creative occupation”-holding (Zukin, 1995) professionals as New York City.

LA’s characteristic playfulness, optimism, topography, and weather have all been brought to pioneering bear in the film, tourism, apparel, architecture, design, and automobile industries. These industries stay here, says Molotch, because there is inherent and irreplaceable value in their geographic association with LA. Moreover, since Southern Californians are so notorious for their lack of brand loyalty, this is a prime marketing testing ground for new products.

“The mistake is always to bracket art from production, and to think of the artistic, whether in material form or human, as defining the opposite of the practical” (264).

LA’s competitive advantage is based on its cultural production.


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


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