Applying ‘fields’ and ‘habitus’ to Researching Cultural Entrepreneurs

As part of my research of Birmingham based cultural entrepreneurs, I aim to highlight the context in which they operate by outlining some key policies and selecting a few important developments and projects. I identify that cultural entrepreneurs are not working in a vacuum but that the language of enterprise, an emphasis on economic development and the role of the cultural industries as part of the city is an important factor in the space of production.

Bourdieu’s notion of a ‘fields of production’ is revealed through the policies, powerful agencies and is linked to ‘habitus’ represented by the networks of individual cultural entrepreneurs who play a role in influencing the ‘field’ by creating their own projects, blogs and events. There is a sense that spaces associated with the cultural industries, either through individuals or through policy making, have much in common. But which comes first, the strategy or the activities of cultural entrepreneurs? Continue reading

Identity and Personal Agency: We are not Robots.

1312-20130301-RobotsForeverAs part of my methodology chapter, I am exploring theories of identity and personal agency as the framework for my approach.

Identity is an important subject in cultural studies. As a means of challenging social norms, particularly, western notions of identity, cultural identities such as gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation, for example, are explored and contested.

The authors of Identity and Agency in Cultural Worlds (Holland, Skinner, Lachicotte and Cain, 1998) research the dichotomy between humans as products of social discipline and the producers of the social worlds in which they live. In this contribution to anthropology, the authors argue that individuals play an active role in re-shaping themselves, their identity and their world. Continue reading

Feminist Theories of Entrepreneurship and Subjectivity

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One aspect of my research is to challenge dominant discourses in entrepreneurship studies. Much of the academic literature exploring entrepreneurship is US-based and explores high growth business models or the impact of entrepreneurship on the economy. Research methodologies favoured by this type of research tends to be quantitative – ‘scientific’. In contrast, women researchers of female entrepreneurship argue that a subjective approach can expose different insights. Bringing their own subjective experience enables women to investigate the subject of entrepreneurship from a new perspective.

…drawing on personal knowledge, in the light of feminist theory, allows women to express their experiences of living gendered lives in conditions of social inequality” (Ramazanoglu and Holland, 2004).

Inspired by this approach, I draw on my first hand knowledge and experience of cultural work, as someone who ran a small textiles business, to inform my study of cultural entrepreneurship. The intention is to listen more carefully to aspects of cultural work based on my own perspective and experience. Furthermore, the dynamic between researcher and interviewees is based on this shared and acknowledged understanding that the researcher is ‘one of us’ rather than an ‘objective’ observer. The idea that I know how it feels to be involved in cultural work, to some extent, removes the opportunity for exaggeration or for excessive invention from the interviewees. They know that I know. This is not born from a sense that cultural workers will ‘lie’ but rather that in my experience, they are often caught in ‘talking up’ their work and experience. In an environment in which the individual worker is often the brand and continuously selling their skills, there can be a lack of critical reflection.

In addition to having some insights into cultural entrepreneurship first hand, I also know the interviewees, having selected them from my personal contacts. Again, this has revealed an opportunity to be informal and created a ‘gossip’ style of interview. Throughout the interview, we will refer to individuals we both know. The process enables a form of self-identification in relation or in comparison to others.

There is Creativity in the Method

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I am working on my methodology chapter. These are some of the questions I am asking just to get started: How is the approach linked to the purpose of the research? Why is it specifically relevant to approach the research in this way? How can I justify the methodology? What are the limitations and issues of quality or robustness?

I start by introducing the methodology chapter:

This chapter outlines the research approach taken in this thesis. The methodological choices have informed the data collection and interpretion, enabling the study to address the research question: ‘cultural entrepreneurship: what role does personal agency play in the cultural worker’s experience of entrepreneurship?’. The chapter contributed to an exploration of appropriate methodologies for capturing the subjective experience of entrepreneurial modes of work by individual cultural workers. This will further enhance current academics debates specifically in two disciplines: firstly by scholars engaged with Advancing European Tradition of Entrepreneurship Studies which seeks to explore entrepreneurship from broader perspectives and challenge dominant notions of the entrepreneur. Secondly it will inform cultural policy and cultural studies by further developing critical perspectives through empirical research.

In this chapter, I aim to include both practical elements such as how I collected the data and the process for designing the analysis, as well as the theoretical context for this approach. I start with inspiration from feminist research in entrepreneurship. But that’s my next blog post…

What is Entrepreneurship Studies?

I recently attended the Advancing European Tradition of Entrepreneurship Studies conference in Leeds. The key word here is advancing. The conference was useful for my research because it seeks to debate some of the questions raised by Daniel Hjorth & Chris Steyaert in their series of books & workshops New Movements in Entrepreneurship. Continue reading

Cultural Entrepreneurship Poster

My draft poster for the Advancing European Traditions of Entrepreneurship Studies conference taking place in Leeds in on 18 and 19th March. This is what the conference is about:

This two-day workshop builds on the concept of a ‘European’ School of entrepreneurship research, by bringing together leading scholars who represent this movement through research which are distinct from the dominant behaviourist/positivist approaches that increasingly typify leading scholarly journals. The aim of the workshop is to provide a creative meeting space to consider experimental and novel approacheswhich advance theoretical understanding of the domain of entrepreneurship andits real-life practices, contexts and impacts. Drawing on multi-disciplinary perspectives, opportunities may thereby be created to expose conceptual anomalies, while developing impactful debates in dialogue with the mainstream of entrepreneurship science.

Cultural Work and Higher Education

I have written a chapter for a book entitled Cultural Work and Higher Education, edited by Dan Ashton and Caitriona Noonan. My chapter focuses on enterprise education and is based on research I did with post-graduate media students. Their experience of doing an enterprise module but not an evaluation of the module. This is the abstract for the chapter:

Media Enterprise in Higher Education: A Laboratory for Learning

Enterprise has become increasingly important in media and creative industries education. In this chapter, I explore some of the tensions between critical debates and teaching enterprise practice. Empirical evidence is provided from interviews with post-graduate media students revealing a dynamic and exploratory approach to entrepreneurship. While there are challenges, engaging with the practical aspects of entrepreneurship enables students to re-shape the idea of the entrepreneur to suit their own practice and circumstances. Reflection encourages students to develop their own media entrepreneur identity.

The book is published by Palgrave and should be available in Autumn 2013.

Social-Constructionism and identity

identity-badgeIn my literature review I explore new movements in entrepreneurship research which has led me to investigate social constructionism. The work of Chell and Karatas-Ozkan in particular but also researchers exploring gender and entrepreneurship have made use of social constructionism. To help me understand the theory I have drawn on the work of Vivien Burr. Continue reading

Position yourself

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I’ve just about finished my literature review and I’m feeling more confident about my ‘position’. The literature review is my first chapter and here is the introduction:

This chapter outlines the context for an exploration of cultural entrepreneurship. I draw on the academic disciplines of cultural studies, cultural policy studies and entrepreneurship to present different perspectives on the relationship between creative workers and entrepreneurial modes of work.

Critical debates, predominantly from cultural studies have sought to expose the paradox between on the one hand, a celebration of entrepreneurial and flexible work and on the other hand, evidence of self-exploitation (Hesmondhalgh and Baker, 2011, p.70-75). Many cultural studies critics depict policies embracing entrepreneurship as evidence of neo-liberal capitalism at play. In contrast, less politicized academics, view the focus on the cultural industries and enterprise as an opportunity to consider new working practices.

The literature associated with these polarized views forms the basis of this chapter and presents the conceptual framework for this research. My aim is firstly, to present key arguments that have shaped research on cultural entrepreneurship. Secondly, I hope to reveal clear distinctions between academic disciplines in terms of approach and purpose. And finally, I draw from both critical research and new movements in entrepreneurship to inform the basis for my empirical study.

 

Sang-Froid

 

Dont worry, my research has not led me to become a serial killer. Not yet anyway.

However, I have challenged myself to not lose my cool. To stay focused. And to try to be more disciplined in my professional work, including my research. Thanks partly to @PLongy.

Continue reading