The Social Factory

the blog of King's CMCI PostGrad Society


On Audience Labour in Facebook – notes towards strategic resistance

– Toby Bennett

At last week’s Dynamics of Virtual Work conference (COST Action IS 1202, if you’re interested), recurring themes were circulating around precariousness, prosumption, value-production and audience labour in the digital economy. Various discussions revolved specifically around ways of conceptualising the users of Facebook as workers.

This is not a new topic. Accounts from Dallas Smythe (1977), for example, about the ‘work’ involved in viewing television advertising were frequently drawn into discussion with Tiziana Terranova’s (2000) and Marc Andrejevic’s (2002; 2009) accounts of the or ‘free’ or ‘user-generated’ labour involved in producing online content and networks. Göran Bolin, who spoke on the Thursday, has done good work to reconcile such perspectives with studies of ‘active audiences’ in reception-oriented forms of cultural studies (e.g. Fiske, 1987), bringing the political economy of consumption into dialogue with its cultural forms (Bolin, 2012). Such accounts rest on an understanding of work that prioritises the ‘value’ produced for a brand or platform associated with a private company, by users’ involvement in the systems owned by that company. Accordingly, there was much theoretical discussion over the classification of ‘productive’, ‘non-productive’, and ‘re-productive’ forms of labour.

In reality, this plays out in various recent ‘disputes’ in the (semi-)public arena. In the Fraley vs. Facebook case, cited in the conference’s opening plenary by Eran Fisher, representatives of Facebook’s users sought to argue in the US courts that they had a claim to the company’s profits, as its advertising model relied expressly on their activity and identity, especially through the ‘sponsored stories’ function; Facebook agreed that this was the case but countered that individual users would have to prove that their image had a historical value attached to it. In essence, the case came down to the extent to which usage of social media transformed individuals into ‘micro-celebrities’ through participation.

In a more activist vein, a recent campaign called ‘Wages for Facebook’ saw a scrolling manifesto being circulated on various social media: opening lines – ‘They say it’s friendship. We say it’s unwaged work. With every like, chat, tag or poke our subjectivity turns them a profit. They call it sharing. We call it stealing’. The campaign alludes to the ‘Wages for Housework’ struggles mounted by feminists in the 1970s for recognition of the work that takes place in the home, in care of children and the elderly, and without which society could not be reproduced so efficiently.

Despite its name, Wages for Housework was not necessarily arguing for an hourly rate of pay but for increased awareness of the socially-necessary but ‘hidden’ work (performed predominantly by women) that enables and contributes to economic growth; in practical terms this might translate into policy that promotes fairness in the distribution of wealth, stronger welfare provision, and so on. Wages for Facebook launches a similar argument for the information society. In a post-Snowden world, however, it is difficult to see any positive practical application of ‘increased awareness’, when critical perspectives so often collapse – either into quiet resignation towards this state of affairs; or into the wild and often troubling pronouncements of conspiracy theorists.

Both of these responses renounce a sense of agency. They declare: ‘But what can I do?’ Yet when I have discussed these issues with friends and with students, however, there is a resounding alternative perspective put forward, which goes: ‘No-one is forcing you to use Facebook. They are doing you a favour by creating a platform for you to interact; if you don’t like their terms then you can always opt out’. This argument is attractive because it is positive and affirmational. It reminds us how lucky we are. It is critical, not of corporate structures, but of those individuals who pretend they are in chains, and who like nothing more than to complain.

There are clear contiguities here with a neoliberal discourse of individual responsibility, rational action, and consumer choice. It also seems clear to me that there are several arguments that mitigate against such action.

‘Opting out’ can be:

  • undesirable. First and foremost, using Facebook is often a pleasurable activity that enables new, surprising and enjoyable encounters and experiences. Why should such benefits and pleasures of a technology necessarily be attached to invasive and restrictive frameworks?
  • affectively difficult. Facebook usage can be habitual and unconscious. Not that this in itself is a good thing but it attests to ways in which the desire to be on social media is not always an entirely rational decision.
  • inconvenient. So much interaction and planning happens through Facebook that one can be literally forgotten and excluded in the material world simply by not having a presence in the online world.
  • stigmatising. As Facebook increasingly becomes the norm, those who reject it increasingly become seen as outsiders, cynics, and weirdos.
  • alienating. Facebook is not just content; it is also form – perhaps even a new form of semi-public space. Not only would you be seen as an outsider, and not only would you be excluded from particular events and information, you would be unable to participate in emerging forms of interaction and organisation in this space.

We do not like to consider aspects that impinge on our sense of individual agency, forcing us to consider ways in which our actions are influenced (even determined) by social and psycho-neurological structures. Quite apart from questions of invasiveness over terms of service, once Facebook passes the tipping point for mainstream take-up, exempting oneself from participating in it is not just a simple matter of personal choice. The more pervasive it becomes, the closer this argument gets to the possibility of opting out of capitalism in its entirety – i.e. undesirable, inconvenient and socially exclusionary.

All of which is why I asked the question, in one session of the conference, of what strategies of resistance to such a situation might be diagnosed; or what routes to transformation might be possible. No satisfactory replies were forthcoming, other than some vague murmurs about co-opting the platform. More thought-provoking was a paper by Emma Keltie on her experiences in amateur online television production. Although she had initially approached the medium in a joyful, affirmational manner, seeing the internet as a dialogic space to enable voices from outside the mainstream to gain audiences that wouldn’t otherwise be heard, Keltie narrated how her team’s energies had slowly been sapped by prohibitive barriers to funding and long-winded licensing processes that still favoured the traditional major players.

Though this was not a particularly positive experience, nonetheless the paper constituted an account of a kind of Damascene conversion to structural criticality through participation in creative production, and I wonder if there might be a model to draw on here. One might hope, for instance, that the government’s introduction of coding into the primary curriculum, if handled well, could have the potential to make a step in that direction.

But who knows. Overall, I’m really not sure what the answer is here and am interested to hear what others think.

Andrejevic, M. (2002) ‘The work of being watched. Interactive media and the exploitation of self-disclosure’, Critical Studies in Media Communication, 19:2, 230–248

Andrejevic, M. (2009) ‘Exploiting YouTube: Contradictions of user-generated labour’, in P. Snickers and P. Vonderau (eds.), The YouTube Reader (Stockholm: National Library of Sweden)

Bolin, Göran (2012), ‘The Labour of Media Use: The Two Active Audiences’, Information, Communication & Society, 15:6, 796-814

Fiske, John (1987), Television Studies (New York: Routledge)

Smythe, Dallas (1977), ‘Communications: Blindspot of Western Marxism,’ Canadian Journal of Political and Social Theory, 1:3, 1-27

Terranova, T. (2000) ‘Free labor. Producing culture for the digital economy’, Social Text, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 33–58

 

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Caffeinated Capitalism

‘Death is a property, a state conditioned by causes; it is not a quality which determines what a human being is and must be’, Nicolai Fedorov (1906)

Toby Bennett – Some thoughts on three new books for 2014…

Robin Mackay and Armen Avanessian (eds.), #accelerate: the accelerationist reader (Falmouth: Urbanomic)

Mark Fisher, Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures (Winchester: Zero)

Benjamin Noys, Malign Velocities: Speed & Capitalism (Winchester, Zero)

 

It’s a 60 second walk from Embankment station to the Strand, a journey I take not infrequently, during which time I encounter three separate Starbucks, a Costa, and an Eat, a situation that is as incredibly, unnecessarily, but joyfully convenient as it is culturally depressing. As I sit here, sipping my mocha, I wonder whether we can map developments in Western intellectual culture through the lens of coffee: from the ‘penny universities’ of English coffee houses to Parisian Left Bank café existentialism; from the caffeine addiction that led Kant to self-imposed abstinence, to Walter Benjamin’s philosophy that must include ‘soothsaying from coffee grounds’. Coffee was the youthful alternative to alcohol through the ‘50s and ‘60s; while the switch of setting from the homely 1980s bar of the sitcom Cheers to the coffee-to-go lifestyle of its ‘90s spin-off Frasier (and, later, the globally influential Friends) signalled something of a generational shift. Coffee cultivated the social life of Enlightenment thought, nourishing its counter-culture into mainstream media, through a marvellously efficient conjuncture of the logic of global imperialism with the micro-physiology of stimulation.

 

Caffeinated capitalism is addictive and energising – but too much of it and the crash is inescapable. This was the gambit of Marx and Engels’ communist manifesto, which argued that capitalism contained within it inherent contradictions which will bring about its dissolution. This notion remains in a new theoretical moment which tries to imagine a different future to the one we currently have, although one which is not quite so ‘inevitable’. Designated ‘accelerationism’, it denotes a diverse bunch of theorists (many of them in the middle of their PhDs) that have begun to associate through their reaction against what they see as the localised defeatism of many left ‘alternatives’.

It is the name given to a line of thought stretching from certain tendencies in Marxism, through post-structuralist dissatisfaction with orthodox communist party politics in the 1970s, and the ‘cyberpunk’ rejection of regressive socialist infighting in the 1990s, to an ever-so-slightly more considered reaction to present day conditions. Though a disparate thread, it was given renewed life in the ‘manifesto for an accelerationist politics’, a text written and published online by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams, which gained unprecedented traction over the course of a few months, garnering responses from McKenzie Wark and Antonio Negri, amongst others, and which has now been translated into a number of languages.

Accelerationists like their theory like they like their coffee: dark, bitter, and bracing. The development of the espresso is, of course, inextricably tied to the steam-power technology of the industrial revolution and its short sharp shocks are exactly what the contemporary urban future-theorist needs to get through the day. The basic unit of accelerationist communication is the tweet; a collection of tweets is a manifesto; a collection of manifestos is an anthology. Hence #accelerate: the accelerationist reader published this month, which collects together excerpts from Marx, Samuel Butler, and Thorstein Veblen; Lyotard, Deleuze and Lipovetsky; Shulamith Firestone and JG Ballard; Nick Land and Sadie Plant; Benedict Singleton, Tiziana Terranova and Antonio Negri. All of these are gathered together to flesh out the theoretical backdrop to the manifesto and all, with rare exception, perform their message stylistically, using fragments, polemics, and multiple voices. Initial orders of the book come with bottles of hot sauce – but perhaps they should be delivered with shots of thick caffeine. If you’re looking for calm, evidence based plans then you should look elsewhere; the reader is strictly for fans of breathless calls to arms.

But this is entirely in keeping with the accelerationist project. As Deleuze and Guattari commented on their infamous 1972 publication, “The two of us wrote Anti-Oedipus together. Since each of us was several, there was already quite a crowd”. At the anthology’s launch last night, Singleton noted how the dominant model for contemporary technologies (like social media) is not the plan but the platform: a dynamic space which sets up boundaries and presents tools but tries not to dictate how that space should be explored or how those tools should be used by the collective. It is designed not towards a specific end but to generate new orientations. Philosopher Pete Wolfendale, later added that pure mathematics, which has been the most productive technique for innovation in history, is a practice of experimentation for its own sake almost entirely divorced from instrumental motivations.

Which is not to say that accelerationists are only interested in theory – just that the instrumentalities it reaches for are usually those that lie slightly beyond reach. See, for example, asteroid capture: just one of the rocks currently circling this planet contains minerals worth over $100 trillion – significantly more than the current world GDP.  The discovery of relatively small mining resources have previously caused entire markets to crash: the increasingly feasible prospect of asteroid mining (by 2023 at current estimates) has now buoyed mass investment. Accelerationists look to acknowledge the successes of the current system – the ways in which it so efficiently and democratically motivates individual action towards mass structural ends – at the same time as a need to grasp its many failures: the manner in which it encourages competitive dissociation; the reliance of such a system on the economic stability of the few to support the precarity of the many; the short-termism of solutions which satisfy immediate needs and desires but have trouble imagining a future past the next electoral cycle.

Seeking alternatives to the current system by no means implies Luddism or arts and crafts social utopianism – an ethic which, anyway, it will happily recuperate, improve, and serve back to us with a cup of tea and a Mumford and Sons soundtrack. Instead it means ‘re-orientating’ the technological means we have at our disposal towards new ends, ones that do not acquiesce to our current limitations. It means ‘accelerating the process’, going further than has previously been thought possible, exceeding the bounds of the existing sphere of capital. Instead, Accelerationists merely insist, let’s not throw the technological baby out with the anti-capitalist bathwater. ‘Dog on a string’ anarchism, anti-capitalist protests, and the Occupy movement alike seemingly reject capitalism in its entirety, offering only temporary forms of ‘escapism’ as their answer. By contrast, Singleton talks of ‘escapology’, the art of escape through using our restrictive ties against themselves. Let’s emphasise the ‘craft’ in craftiness, the accelerationists say; let’s use the power of our imaginations once again.

Coffee is no longer the symbol of intellectualism, of pretentiousness, elitism, counter-culture, youth, and so on that it used to be – it is the taste of the multitude. Independent coffee-shops are the new sites of resistance, where we pay an extra 20p to pin our insurgent, anti-consumerist colours to the mast. How many business meetings are fuelled with lattes and Americanos? How much networking has been preceded by the phrase ‘shall we go for a coffee?’ This is where free trade meets fair trade: one aspect of a totalised, routinized, global system which collapses the ethics of social responsibility into liberal consumption, and to which There Is No Alternative. As Starbucks insist: it’s “good coffee karma”.

‘If the schizoid children of modernity are alienated, it is not as survivors from a pastoral past, but as explorers of an impeding post-humanity’, Sadie Plant & Nick Land (1994)

If 1968 was the moment of crisis that inaugurated the generalised momentum of counter-culture thinking, then ‘our’ moment of crisis came exactly forty years later, once cultural liberalism had reached its middle age, settled down, and decided to keep calm and carry on. The moments after 2008 may have been initially promising for anyone seeking new economic systems but it was not long before what Mark Fisher (2009) called ‘Capitalist Realism’ – i.e. the cultural impossibility of imagining an alternative – set in (let’s not forget that the most scathing critique levelled at Occupy protesters was that they should fancy a cup of coffee). It around this time that Benjamin Noys (2010) coined the term ‘accelerationism’ in his critical appraisal of a tendency towards ‘affirmation’ in post-structuralist thought after the fact. Both Fisher and Noys were present at the first ‘Accelerationism’ event at Goldsmiths in 2010, held amidst the on-going wave of occupations and protests over the rise in student fees (just a few weeks before the massive London ‘DemoLition’ march that ended in mayhem at Millbank) and a few months before the Arab spring erupted – both events frequently characterised by their ‘revolutionary’ deployment of social media and by a sense of lost opportunity. It is a sense which today, four years on, seems pervasive.

 

Both of these writers have new offerings out in the near future (both for Zero Books): the former’s Ghosts of My Life furthers his thoughts on hauntology, exploring the psychological and affective impact of ‘Retromania’, the nostalgic cultural trend towards seeking futures in the past that Simon Reynolds (2011) depicts as the cultural logic of capitalist realism; the latter (in Malign Velocities) continues his critique of acceleration in more detail, having previously applied it as an identification of forms of misdirected reaction to political failure that conflate the completed capitalist project with communism, displacing the proletarian subject with capital itself. Both writers draw attention to intertwining of psychological and political problems and the problem with basing your alternatives either too far in the past or too far in the future.

Certainly, it is easy to poke fun at the accelerationist project, particularly when it teasingly, dangerously, presents itself as a ‘political heresy’ (how daring! how sexy!). But as Patricia Reed notes in #accelerate’s closing chapter, it ‘has little to do with novelty […] indeed it is practically reformist – and since I’m not French this is not in essence a politically pejorative term’ – a sentiment with which last night’s event explicitly concurred. As a practical handbook for developing a new future, accelerationism is probably dead before it’s even begun (although perhaps it will one day be resurrected, in keeping with Fedorov’s hopes for our ancestors): it’s difficult to see these books being given much time at the IPPR. But as a theoretical toolbox (a platform even) for equipping new imaginations, and making us think harder about the relation to technology in the current era, about what might constitute progress in such conditions, and what kinds of culture befit this future – it certainly gives us something to think about over a coffee.

 

 

Upcoming events:

23 May 2014: Accelerationism: a workshop and a lecture, University of Westminster, Centre for the Study of Democracy, Regent Street

29 May 2014: Ghosts of My Life Book Launch, Café Oto, Dalston

 

Further reading:

Accelerationist Aesthetics, e-Flux #46, 2013

Benjamin Noys, ‘Intoxication and Acceleration

Extract from Mark Fisher’s Ghosts of My Life

 

 


Imagine a boy…

It’s in their nature by Natalie Wreyford

Inspired by Emma Dabiri’s article in The New Statesman about hair in which she asked us to “Imagine a world that is dominated by Black Africans”, where “All the successful women in society have full resplendent, Afro hair, even the minority white ones.” I thought it might be interesting to try a similar imaginative experiment about gender. So here goes. There’s a lot I couldn’t fit in. Please feel free to come up with some additions.

seth passport

Imagine a boy… born into a world where all the daddies stay at home and look after the children and the mummies go out to work full time. Where, in the first years of his life, he sees a lot more of Daddy and other daddies than he does of Mummy, and he starts to link his own gender with this important role in life.  He is given toys that promote this association – baby dolls to look after, play food and supermarket baskets, even miniature cleaning equipment. He sees Daddy do the cleaning, the shopping, the cooking, the tidying up, and it reinforces the idea that this is what boys and men do.  Mummy helps a bit, but it’s not really her job. He sees it all the time on TV and in films too. The men always stay at home with their children and they don’t often have other jobs, only sometimes they are nurses and teachers and other nurturing roles. He also enjoys his sister’s programmes, all about adventures and rescuing people and fighting the bad gals, but his friends all have the same T-shirts he does, the ones with the pretty boys who wear the sweetest shorts and shirts, and who gaze out bashfully from his colouring books and dinner plates, as they pick flowers and stroke baby animals. As he starts school and starts to learn about the world, he begins to realise that the stuff Mummy does, out there in the big world, might be a bit more interesting that this small cozy world of Daddies. He’s doing well at school. He’s ready for new adventures. He’s encouraged to pursue what he’s interested in, and imagine himself in some of the roles that mummies (and a few daddies) take. But all the time, in the back of his head, and often in the front too, is the reminder that one day he will most likely want to have children too, and how will that fit in with all the other plans he has? How will he look after them? He had better make sure that he finds himself a good woman to look after him and the kids. He’d better make sure he doesn’t do anything to put the ladies off. He’d better make sure he looks good all the time, because you never know when Mrs. Right is going to appear. Also the girls seem to have much more confidence in class. They’re not afraid to speak out, or to mess around and get in trouble. It’s part of their nature. It might help if the girls weren’t always commenting on the way he and the other boys look. And reading those magazines stolen from their mums with pictures of men with no clothes on lying around in the strangest of places. The girls have started asking him to text them a picture of himself like that. He doesn’t want to, but he really wants the girls to like him and some of the other boys have done it. As he reaches senior school he starts to think that he should have as much right as the girls in his class to do whatever he wants. But he feels most comfortable in the supportive environment of male-dominated subjects where they talk about art and relationships and don’t get laughed at by the girls when they put on those unflattering lab coats and goggles.  His dad went back to work a few years ago, but he’s always there to pick him up from school and on Fridays he goes to the Supermarket. That’s also the day the cleaner, Jose, comes. By the time he’s at university, the boy has decided that he wants to try to make his mark in this world. He’s ambitious to have a good job and to make a contribution to the world. He’s found a girlfriend who is pretty nice to him (after a series of disastrous learning experiences with girls who were only interested in losing their virginity with him and made him feel pretty insecure and unattractive at times). He believes it is possible to have a career and a family. It’s all a question of balance. He imagines working flexi-time, rushing back from an exciting day at work to pick up the children from nursery and sing them to sleep. He doesn’t dare talk to his girlfriend about these things. If she got any idea that he was thinking even in vague, speculative terms about these sort of things it would probably make her run a mile. It’s not like he wants to rush into things, but sometimes he wonders whether it will be as easy as he thinks (he’s heard thinks from the Masculists at the students union which scared him a bit. Something about men doing ‘second shifts’ of work and childcare and not being paid as much as women, and not making it into the senior jobs in practically any professions). But maybe those men don’t want to rise to the top of their professions. That’s fine. Maybe they prefer to stay at home and look after the kids, just like their dads did. After all, it’s in their nature isn’t it?

 


Higher Education engagement with the art and cultural sector: bridging community knowledge and practices

Dr Roberta Comunian (King’s College London) and Dr Abigail Gilmore (University of Manchester) recently visited Queensland University of Technology to discuss the relationship between higher education and the creative economy in Australia. Bringing the UK experience into this discussion they consider the role of collaborative frameworks for connecting universities with regional arts and creative industries.

Originally posted on Arts Queenland. See original post here: Arts for all Queenslanders Strategy

roberta comunian

Historically universities have been key cultural players in cities and communities, and the UK higher education sector has long been engaging with arts and culture, for example through hosting museums and performing arts spaces on campus and by engaging in academic research on arts and cultural topics and activities. Latterly, there has been a growing pressure from policy to understand better the real contribution (and impact) of higher education to the arts sector and the creative economy, and also to facilitate and support this engagement to enhance its potential. There has been a marked evolution in the thinking and practice of engagement between higher education institutions and the arts and cultural sector in recent years in the UK, which has been fuelled by a series of policy and consultancy research reports as well as by new funding initiatives such as the AHRC Creative Economy Hubs.

Initially, relationships between higher education and the arts and cultural sector have been characterised by the assumption that knowledge sitting within academia can benefit the work and practice of creative practitioners and organisations. Although this ‘ideal type’, which we call in our typology the ‘injection model’, is still relevant to today’s collaborative practices (especially in the case of consultancy work and commissioned research), it remains quite unidirectional. Similarly, collaborations which position higher education institutions as ‘cultural agents’ in their own right (often via their own galleries and cultural infrastructure) can have limited scope in linking university stakeholders with local communities to widen participation.

However, other modes of engagement are emerging to take central stage in this landscape, which question and blur the boundaries and roles of academia and the arts sector. Two dimensions are key to these new, more essentially collaborative approaches: firstly, human capital, and secondly, the production of shared space or ‘third space’.

In reference to human capital there is a clear acknowledgement both within academia and the arts world that collaborations and exchanges are based on individuals and their networks and knowledge. Here the arts is a source of knowledge assets for academia, as theoretical knowledge requires the importing of practice-led expertise, for example professionals engaged in teaching as guests and sometimes even in tenured, permanent positions. Similarly students and academics are encouraged to take part in community cultural activities, which see their ‘local citizenship’ and ‘social responsibility’ as a key element in the dialogue. One interesting case study of shared human capital is at University of Manchester, where the Director of the university-owned Whitworth Art Gallery, Dr Maria Balshaw, is also Joint Director of the Manchester (City) Art Gallery, and has just become the Strategic Lead for Culture for Manchester City Council (you can listen to Dr Maria Balshaw talking about this here).

Shared spaces are another key form of engagement which instigates collaborative practice.  Some shared spaces are physical infrastructures (for example incubation spaces, shared facilities), others are virtual platforms or ‘third spaces’, where academic knowledge mixes and negotiates with specialist knowledge from the art sector and its communities. An example of creating shared space is the curated Public Programme ran by Nottingham Contemporary in close partnership with the local universities (listen to the presentation of Isobel Whitelegg on this project here).

The AHRC-funded research network ‘Beyond the Campus: Higher Education and the Creative Economy’ tries to capture these modes of engagement and dialogue that enable higher education and the arts and cultural sector to add value to each others’ work via collaborative practices and knowledge exchange. It can be difficult to capture the nuances of the wide range of interactions taking place but we hope that a better knowledge of these modes of engagement – and their limits and challenges – can give both academics and creative practitioners better tools for future collaboration on and off-campus.    Whilst early research shows a reciprocal commitment from both parties, there are also challenges and difficulties emerging in the findings specifically in reference to institutional and practical processes and structures and also connected to motivations and rewards for collaboration.  It would be interesting to find out whether these challenges are relevant in the Australian context and whether arts organisations face different issues in their work with academia in Queensland?

Dr Roberta Comunian and Dr Abigail Gilmore

Dr. Roberta Comunian is Lecturer in Cultural  and Creative Industries at the Department for Culture, Media and Creative Industries at King’s College London.  She previously worked at the University of Kent and at the University of Southampton. She holds a European Doctorate title in Network Economy and Knowledge Management. She is interested in: relationship between public and private investments in the arts, art and cultural regeneration projects, cultural and creative industries, creativity and competitiveness.

Dr Abigail Gilmore is Director of the Centre for Arts Management and Cultural Policy at the University of ManchesterHer doctoral research, awarded by the University of Leicester, was on popular music, cultural policy and local music scenes and communities. She has been involved in a range of policy-related academic research projects, including an AHRC funded study of the Millennium Dome, the development of local cultural strategies and creative industries mapping, before going on to work in advisory and consultancy positions to the cultural sector with government departments and non-departmental bodies in the North West, for the last five years.

The research network is supported by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

Feature image:  Queensland Academy for Creative Industries  Photo by Dr Abigail Gilmore


CFP: Creating Cultures: Postgraduate conference in Culture, Media, and the Creative Industries, King’s College London

CFP: Creating Cultures: Postgraduate conference in Culture, Media, and the Creative Industries, King’s College London

Keynote speaker: Prof. Lev Manovich, CUNY

Held on the 12th and 13th of June 2014, this multi-disciplinary postgraduate conference seeks a broad array of perspectives that explore cultural representations, practices, and industries. The title ‘Creating Cultures’ prompts inquiries into concepts of culture being created, cultures of creativity, cultures evolving and changing, and also cultures of creative work and play.

Culture evokes ideas about its conflicting and disputed foundations, and culture as a medium through which social, political, spatial, and historical meanings are communicated and understood. The theme of this conference invites explorations of power relations, gender, subjectivity, the spatial, technology and contemporary media.

Abstract submissions for presentations and pre-formed panels are invited on themes in cultural and/or media studies, such as:

Power and cultural politics

Identity and representation

Media and mediation

Digital cultures, new media, and media futures

Cultures and change

Popular culture

Contested and counter cultures

Art and artistic practice

Cultural labour and industries

Territorial and spatial cultures

Globalisation and transnational cultures

Cultural and media research methodologies

Please submit 300 word abstracts, or proposals for creative presentation formats, and a maximum 100-word biography to cmci-conference@kcl.ac.uk by the 28th of March. Decisions on submissions will be sent by the 17th of April.

For any queries contact: Jeremy Matthew (jeremy.matthew@kcl.ac.uk) or Photini Vrikki (photini.vrikki@kcl.ac.uk)