RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016

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376 Nexus-Thinking the Network: Social Network Analysis, Digital Data, and Complexity in Cultural Production Networks
Affiliation Social and Cultural Geography Research Group
Convenor(s) Michael Hoyler (Loughborough University, UK)
Allan Watson (Loughborough University, UK)
Chair(s) Michael Hoyler (Loughborough University, UK)
Timetable Friday 02 September 2016, Session 4 (16:50 - 18:30)
Session abstract While there has been a great deal of attention paid within Geography to the localised spatial clustering of the cultural and media industries in particular ‘hot-spots’, our understanding of the social and economic complexities of cultural and media production networks, and the subsequent spatial manifestations of these networks, remains poorly developed. Furthermore, our ability to understand the scope and scale of these production networks has remained limited by a lack of extensive, quantitative analyses. The aim of this session is to ‘nexus-think’ the complex social and economic interdependencies within networks, so as to better inform methodologies and digital data collection strategies for extensive network analyses. The topics addressed within this session will include, but are not limited to, the following: Theoretical or empirical papers concerned with the complexities of networks of cultural and media production, especially those considering the interdependencies of cultural, social and economic ties; The application of Social Network Analysis methodologies, or other quantitative network analysis strategies, to the study of networks of cultural and media production, across a variety of spatial scales; Innovative visualisation strategies for complex social, cultural and economic networks; Challenges and opportunities for digital data collection for network analysis, especially data from social networks and ‘big-data’.
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2016@rgs.org
Beyond 'Global Hollywood' : (Trans)national Film Production in Alternative Urban Networks
Michael Hoyler (Loughborough University, UK)
Allan Watson (Loughborough University, UK)
While the global film industry has received some attention from economic geographers, research to date has tended to focus on the internal nature and dynamics of established and newly-emerging urban film production clusters. This is especially the case for Hollywood, USA, which has dominated the global film industry in terms of international reach over the past century. Yet little attention has been given to the way in which film productions transcend the boundaries of individual clusters and link together urban centres of production in temporary project networks. In this paper, we consider the urban networks created through the temporary collaboration of film production firms in a range of other states. Stripping away the 'top layer' of Hollywood's commercially successful feature films, we undertake a social network analysis of the (trans)national project networks of film production firms in five countries across three continents – China, Germany, France, Brazil and Mexico – to provide a comparative analysis of networked urban geographies. Using the national as a lens through which to study the global, we critically consider the effects of state policy and territorial path dependency on the formation of city networks and thereby conceptually advance work on the multi-scalar geographies of globalisation.
Tracing Creative Production Networks
Jon Swords (Northumbria University, UK)
The creative industries are increasingly characterized by trans-local/-national flows of intellectual property, finance, labour, and consumption. In this presentation two approaches to tracing creative networks are discussed. The first relates to film and television production where offshoring, outsourcing and multi-site productions are now commonplace along the value chain. This means identifying sites of production is harder and harder to do. Despite this, national and regional bodies continue to celebrate 'British-made films' or that x show was 'made in our region'. The robustness of these claims is undermined by the realities of production methods and multiple sources of IP, commissioning finance and labour inputs. But identifying regional productions remains important for local identity, tourism and funding claims. Using social network analysis a topological methodology for doing so is outlined. In contrast, identifying sites of production is much easier for individual creators such as vloggers, podcasters, cartoonists and writers, who use websites as their distribution platforms. Their sources of finance, however, are located around world and thus more difficult to identify. In relation to this second example I will outline how funding networks were traced and visualised to identify communities of patrons who fund creators via patreon.com.
The Network and the Biography – Geography of Contemporary Art from an African Perspective
Olivier Marcel (University of Bordeaux Montaigne, France)
This paper looks at some of the findings and challenges of the Artl@s database (ENS Ulm, Paris) in an effort to grasp the reach and usages of contemporary art networking in Sub-Saharan Africa. Artl@s is a project dedicated to systematic representations of transnational art circulations by the collection and integration of geographical information contained in exhibition catalogues. These sources, particularly those emanating from large scale perennial exhibitions, provide biographical material on a large cohort of artists participating to the art field. The geographical implications of these circulations, meshing African metropolises to a global production network, have not yet been fully assessed in terms of hierarchies and flows. However, to what extent can a network explain the geography of singular careers? Conversely, how do the main actors of the field position themselves regarding the social, economic and geopolitical patterns of the network they enact? The rise and global recognition of contemporary art in Africa are usually interpreted through two distinct narratives that call upon two opposed methodological lenses: one insists on the agency of artists, the other on the ramifications of institutional webs of power. Confronting the intimacy of individual trajectories to the complexities of an emerging transnational field, this paper suggests departing from the underlying dualities of such narratives by considering network and biography as mutually constitutive. This proposal therefore articulates network analysis with the wealth of qualitative material that informs a biographical survey within the nodes of this network. Doing so, it envisages strategies for visualizing a spatial prosopography.
Combining Digital Methods and Ethnography: Findings and Methodological Challenges for the Study of Social and Economic Movements in the Age of Big Data
Alberto Cossu (Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy)
My contribution is based on the research I have conducted for my PhD in 2012-2015 on the Italian mobilization of artists and creative workers, started in 2011 in Rome and then spread all across the country. My case study is on Macao, or the "New Center for Arts, Culture and Research" of Milan in which I have conducted an 18-months long ethnography. In my contribution I will try to highlight how digital methods (Rogers, 2013) can substantively contribute to grasp support networks, affinities and power dynamics to a scope and precision impossible to reach through "human" observation. In particular, I will present two different scenarios in which digital methods have been deployed in my analysis. The first deals with a critical approach to social media metrics in the development of a theory about the current mobilization of artists and creative workers in Italy. Against a deterministic approach spread in the "connective logic" approach (Bennet & Segerberg 2013) using a combination of qualitative data and a fine-grained analysis of big data I have tried to locate a deeper cultural logic for which to explain the diffusion and solidarity spread in favor of Macao. The second is based on an extensive analysis of the Macao's Facebook page-like network via the Facebook app Netvizz (Rieder, 2013) in which, through clustering algorithms and Dataviz software as Gephi, I was able to confirm an important hypothesis that I had developed during my "traditional" fieldwork. In particular, I argued that Macao was much closer to the realm of Fab-Labs and social entrepreneurs than to the traditional network of militants spread across Milan.
The Structural Complexity of Creative Production Networks: A Social Network Analysis Perspective on Economic, Social and Spatial Components of Production Forms in the Creative Industries
Marco Copercini (Universität Potsdam, Germany)
The production networks of the creative industries present an interesting challenge to economic geography and its perspective on production organisation. Production in the creative industries is characterised by different components such as cultural-symbolic and economic-material, as well as social interactions in the urban and professional context. These different components have to be considered in their mutual interaction in order to have a comprehensive picture of the different mechanisms that are involved in the production processes of the creative industries. From this standpoint I suggest in this paper that the production processes have to be understood as the results of interactions between three different spheres: economic, social and spatial. According to my research on the Berlin fashion design sector this approach shows the complex and multilayered dynamics of production processes in creative sectors. Based on the use of an egonetwork methodology, the theoretical construct of production networks allows a reconstruction of the different interaction forms that occur in production processes of creative sectors. However the reconstruction of the single production networks and of the interactions between the different elements is influenced by research design choices, like the chosen creative sector or the considered cities. Production network shows challenges from a theoretical standpoint and also for the empirical research of social network analysis as the influential elements on production change not only between sectors, which is understandable, but also between the different spatial contexts and even between different actors within the same urban context.