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

Jenkins, H., Purushotma, R. Weigel, M., Clinton, K., and Robison, A.J. (2009). _Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century_. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.

In this white paper, Jenkins and collaborators argue for participatory culture as a tool against youth apathy (Buckingham, 2000) and the digital divide. Per Livingstone and Bober (2005), the digital divide isn’t about access, but speed, site, quality, support — the extent to which the Net is engaging and rich. Per Wartella, O’Keefe and Scantlin (2000), we should emphasize technologies less, and skills and content access more to undermine the current class distinction.

The authors see three challenges, thus reasons, for policy and education interventions:

  1. the participation gap: it’s not just about access to the technologies, it’s about the human capital necessary to effectively articulate their capabilities
  2. the transparency problem: the world is layered with layers of media — critical reflection is necessary for youth to see through and to media’s often warped messaging
  3. the ethics challenge: without training, young people are hindered from assuming public roles in community engagement and media production

As remedy, book advocates for an ecological approach to media technologies and communities, and for youth media education that develops skills, knowledge, moral frameworks, and self-confidence. Defined, “participatory culture” has (1) relatively low limits to creative expression and civic engagement, (2) a strong creative and sharing support, (3) informal mentoring of the uninitiated, (4) participants who believe their input matters, and (5) that they share social connections with others. Participatory culture education shifts literacy emphasis from the individual and to the collective. They are also interested in the terms affiliations, expressions, collaborative problem solving, and circulations.

Per Jenkins et al., we need new media education, the literacies of which, “a set of cultural competencies and social skills that young people need in the new media landscape” (xiii). These skills build on and complement the traditional literacy, critical thinking, and technical training already learned in the classroom.

These new media literacies are:

  • play: experimenting offers a new way into problem solving
  • performance: assuming other identities fosters improvisation and learning
  • simulation: evaluating and reconstructing real-world operations
  • appropriation: making something one’s own through remixing and reinterpretation
  • multitasking: zeroing in on primary concerns
  • distributed cognition: interacting with tools so as to augment current cognitive capabilities
  • collective intelligence: pooling and sharing knowledge for common purpose
  • judgment: assessing and determining information sources for their merit
  • transmedia navigation: following information across various modalities
  • networking: searching, synthesizing, and sharing intelligence
  • negotiation: traveling through various communities, respecting their viewpoints, and comprehending other norms

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Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Media Literacy, Minor Field, Research Fields