Tag Archives: cultural production

Scott, A. (2004). Cultural-Products Industries and Urban Economic Development: Prospects for Growth and Market Contestation in Global Context. _Urban Affairs Review_, 39(4): 461 -490.

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:

  1. focused on aesthetic and semiotic content creation
  2. the more disposable income, the more industries’ products are consumed
  3. 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).

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Scott, A. (1997). The cultural economy of cities. _International journal of urban and regional research_, 21(2): 323–339.

Allen J. Scott, PhD Geography from Northwestern University, is Distinguished Professor of Public Policy and Geography at UCLA. He has spent the last several years focusing on industrialization organization and location, urbanization, the cultural economy of cities, and economic development.

In this paper he explores “the intertwined effects of capitalist production processes and the ever-increasing cultural content of outputs, and the ways in which these effects make themselves felt in the growth and development of particular place” (325). Moreover, he asserts that these effects will be complex and far ranging, exhibiting both Adorno’s (2001) bleak assessment of the flattening culture industry and a more optimistic one.

Scott opens, explaining place and culture are inextricably liked and not without tensions: place is “always a locus of dense human relationships” (324) and culture is incident to “place specific characteristics” (ibid) that distinguishes localities from one another. The postfordist cultural product economy affirms the supply side’s differentiation marketing strategy and the demand side’s fad-driven consumption. The net effect: flexible, specialized production by small firms enabled by technological breakthroughs and networked organization.

The most important upshot for this “productive-cum-competitive regime” (327) discussion: “large metropolitan areas…[are] rapidly becoming the master hubs of cultural production in a postfordist global economic order” (327).

There are three main points of the cultural economy:

  1. it comprises a wide variety of manufacturing and service activities
  2. its employment signifies its sheer size, which seems to be growing
  3. much of the cultural economy is located in major city centers.

Scott then explains the cultural-products industries can be summed up in the following five technological-organizational dimensions:

  1. the technologies and labor processes involve larger amounts of human handiwork and computer technologies
  2. production is generally arranged in small- and medium-sized, dense networks
  3. multifaceted industrial complexes arise from the smaller networks, which in turn require labor pools, thus reducing the risks for both workers and employers
  4. the complexes of cultural products industries are “invariably replete with external economies” (333), which leads to “the hypothesis that innovation…is likely to be a geometric function of the size and the relevant reference group
  5. agglomeration encourages new institutional infrastructures which can assist the local economy.

Finally, while cultural economies are densely agglomerated in their home cities, they are likewise global actors, “embedded in far-flung global networks of transactions” (334). Their success is thus dependent on local penetration and foreign, cultural access. Multinational corporations are no an essential ingredient in cultural production circulation.

“[G]eographically differentiated cultural production nodes are liable to be the rule rather than the exception” (335).

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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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Paul, C. (2011). Contextual Networks: Data, Identity, and Collective Production. In _Context Providers_, M. Lovejoy, C. Paul, and V. Vesna, eds. Bristol and Chicago: intellect.

Digital technologies offer new ways to network and contextualize locations and social connections, and so create frameworks for examining culture. “Context” itself is a “complex construct” (103), subsuming the physical, social, organizational, and economic. When we speak in global terms, we refer to locational contexts. And when we speak locally, we evaluate agency and access to/within particular locations. Malcolm McCullough (2004) parses, distinguishing between “‘setting’ as objective, a priori space and ‘context’ as both the engagement with the setting and the bias this space creates for the interactions occurring within it” (104).

“Context awareness and the ability to improvise in contexts are a necessity for functioning in an information society that finds its extension in pervasive computing and social media” (104).

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