36th EGOS Colloquium
Organizing for a Sustainable Future:
Responsibility, Renewal & Resistance
University of Hamburg
July 2–4, 2020
36th EGOS Colloquium
July 2–4, 2020
Creative activity is our great need; but criticism, self-criticism, is the road to its release.
Research into the creative industries, and relatedly into arts management, cultural organizations and the cultural economy, has recognized the ongoing quest for novelty and authenticity in creative endeavours (Jones et al., 2005; Jones et al., 2016; Castañer & Campos, 2002). It has emphasized the importance not only of creative ideas, but also of networks and expertise (Townley et al., 2009), as well as the associated distinctive values, career paths and lifestyles (Moeran & Strandgaard Pedersen, 2011; Eikhof & Haunschild, 2006). Studies have delved into various paradoxes and individual, management and organizational challenges (Eikhof, 2014; Jones et al., 2007; Lampel et al., 2000). Yet, while accounting for these paradoxes and challenges, research has contributed to shaping a predominantly positive view of these contexts, in terms of their purview and social, culture al and economic significance (Caves, 2000), e.g. driving desirable economic and social development, and originating new forms of organizing and production.
At the same time, practitioners and scholars alike have started raising concerns about substantial invisibilities, inequalities, and injustice behind this positive image. For instance, permanently precarious employment erodes creative workers’ rights and makes them vulnerable to exploitation and sexual harassment (Conor, 2015; Hennekam & Bennett, 2017), reliant on hope (Alacovska, 2018) and “labour of love”(Menger, 1999) for having a career. At the same time, creative careers are less accessible for workers of certain gender, social and ethnic backgrounds, and the resulting social inequalities are often worse than in other industries (Eikhof, 2017). Creative industries’ online business-models crowd out local shops for cultural products and entertainment venues, while the creative class’ physical presence in a city fuels gentrification and drives rents up (Peck, 2005). Lastly, cultural institutions, as well as creative production and events, for example, fashion and music festivals, have considerable environmental impact that requires both collective action and policy attention (Maxwell & Miller, 2017).
Alternative forms of work, organization, and production are emerging that seek to address these invisibilities, inequalities, and injustice, e.g. shielding creative employment through collaborative circles, creative collectives, orco-operatives (Boyle & Oakley 2018, Farrell, 2001), engaging in creative work for social purpose (Svejenova & Christiansen, 2018), opting for peripherality as a programmatic choice (Grabher, 2018), or leveraging arts-based organizing for resistance (Serafini, 2018). However, overall and in much contrast to their glamorous and positive image and policy appeal, the creative industries have been exposed as delivering growth that remains exclusionary rather than inclusive (Banks, 2018), and for doing so in ways that endanger the sustainability and responsible development of culture, economies and societies. These issues and the possible responses to them call for better understanding and new conceptualizations, rethinking and revisiting our theories on organizing in and of the creative industries and cultural organizations (Banks & O’Connor, 2017; Schlesinger, 2016).
This sub-theme seeks to offer space for these conversations and for bringing together new theoretically informed and empirically grounded research on creative industries. It aims to advance our understanding of the role creative industries and the cultural economy (can) play in shaping sustainable futures and organizing for responsibility and resistance to the pressing challenges of society, and to reflect on the interdisciplinary conceptual developments required to produce such understanding.
Research on the creative industries constitutes a both excitingly and dauntingly multitudinous field, encompassing management and organization studies, cultural studies, sociology of art, work and employment, geography, cultural and public policy, as well as education, art history and the various industry-specific debates (e.g. media studies or screen studies). The sub-theme seeks to advance creative industries’ research by bringing together and identifying points of connection, but also of contradictions across these multiple contributions.
EGOS has been a welcoming home for creative industries’ research in the past, in sub-themes and the recently concluded EGOS Standing Working Group. While those encounters have been fruitful and advanced creative industries research, less attention has been paid to the dark sides of these industries, their ambivalent relationship with sustainability and responsibility, and their duality in both critiquing and creating invisibilities, inequalities and injustice. It is timely to revisit the creative industries as an empirical and theoretical domain, and what better location for that than Hamburg, a renowned hub for creative minds, with the creative and media industries being essential for its economy. Hamburg has also a long-standing tradition of critical art, anti-bourgeois critique and creative resistance, whether in its world-leading cultural institutions, such as Kampnagel, one of Germany’s largest production houses curating new art formats, or its cultural quarters, most famously St. Pauli and the Schanzenviertel, and more recently the Gängeviertel. There will thus be various opportunities for establishing meaningful connections between the sub-theme and its local Hamburg context.
This sub-theme seeks to attract contributions that revisit the creative industries as a phenomenon-driven theoretical domain of organizational research by (1) accounting for their invisibilities, inequalities, and injustice, (2) offering insights into how organizing can enable more responsible approaches to producing cultural and creative output, and (3) developing new theoretical and methodological connections across disciplinary boundaries to improve their understanding as an active force towards a more sustainable future. In addition, we hope to receive submissions that explore these issues in less investigated creative contexts, such as those in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, as well as those involving minority communities or indigenous art.
In particular, we invite research on the creative industries and cultural organizations that delves into but is not limited to the following issues:
What role is the cultural economy imagined to play in shaping sustainable futures – by policy makers, advocacy groups and campaigners, as well as by creative producers and consumers? How are different past and future horizons mobilized in discussing creative industries’ engagement with sustainable development?
How do tensions between cultural economy as vivacious, inspiring and entertaining, on the one hand, and precarious and harmful, on the other hand, influence creative work and production? How are resistance and advocacy for renewal organized?
How do imperatives of innovation, novelty and creative expansion relate to ideas of heritage, preservation, conservation and measured use of resources?
What are the sustainability implications of creative production? How do responsible and sustainable business models and forms of organizing creative production get (re-)imagined and trialled?
What established and emerging cultural and economic policies and practices help promote inclusion, sustainability, and responsibility? How is the impact of sustainability initiatives assessed?
How can the resource use of cultural and creative production, in terms of talent and materials, but also infrastructures and political commitments, be made more sustainable? What is the role of global supply chains and consumption modes in improving the industries’ environmental footprint?
How is activist art organized to address inequality, injustice and sustainability issues in the public arena? How are citizens and communities engaged (e.g. feminist art collectives, socially engaged art, environmental awareness and impact)? How can such forms of organizing inspire reform and renewal in the creative industries more broadly? What are the creative, career, and ethical implications in the use of AI and other technologies? How do immersive technologies change creative work and production? What new challenges to the sustainable organization of work and responsible use of resources arise from new technologies?
What new directions can inspire future work in the field of creative industries and cultural organizations? What concepts, theories and methodological designs can help develop the understanding of their role as active force towards a sustainable future?