In this article, Scott aims to address the real feasibility of placing cultural-products industries at the center of economic development policies, as has been increasingly common practice since the first generation of “place marketing and associated heritage-industry programs” (464) of the 1980s.
Today, says Scott, cultural economy industries are bound together by these three common features. They are:
- focused on aesthetic and semiotic content creation
- the more disposable income, the more industries’ products are consumed
- their presence encourages local agglomeration for production, which is then circulated into global markets.
About the functional points of industries: First, they’re “composed of swarms of small producers complemented by many fewer numbers of large establishments” (467). Second, the small producers tend toward flexible specialization and the large firms toward mass production, sometimes turning into “systems houses” (467), hubs of larger production networks. They conform to a contractual/transactional model with a heavy reliance on part-time/freelance labor, the instability of which leads to “intensive social networking activities” (467).
Cultural products industries operate best when their component parts cluster geographically. Globalization has in fact accentuated “agglomeration because it leads to rising exports combined with expansion of localized production” (472). Production may move elsewhere, creating “alternative clusters or satellite production locations” (473), such as Vancouver filming locations.
Partnerships between cities, facilitated by communications, also exist. Using the audiovisual industry as an exemplar, Scott hypothesizes “a much more polycentric and polyphonic global audiovisual production system in the future that has been the case in the recent past” (475), one that will get increasingly “enmeshed in [widening and decentralizing] global networks of commercial and creative interactions” (475).
Regarding developmental initiatives for the cultural economy, in cities where the cultural-products industries exist, the best policy comprises interventions “at critical junctures in the production system and the urban milieu to release synergies” (479). In cities without preexisting cultural production, there is often a revamping effort using “the relics of the industrial past” (479). Such initiatives, however, can unleash gentrification. In all cases, policy makers must know they have to reach out to the wider world’s consumer base.
“A vibrant cultural politics attuned to these issues will no doubt attempt to intensify the push to diversity while seeking to mobilize opinion in favor of a global cultural economy that promotes intelligence and sensibility rather than their opposites” (484).