Cultural studies was established to use empirical facts e. But over the years it has fallen foul of its own purposes. It has imported ideology, in the form of pre-judged prejudiced political affiliations and allegiances, organised not around current problems of knowledge but under the shade of inherited prophets. In the first place, the distinction between the humanities and sciences is itself dynamic. Some disciplines — anthropology in particular — show signs of moving in the opposite direction. There have been many attempts to shift the study of human associated life society and culture over to the sciences.
But it was a mistake to withdraw from scientific endeavour as a result. Cultural studies would have done better, as heterodox economics has done, to maintain a scientific ambition while critiquing science.
John Hartley (academic)
Of course some influential figures like Poulantzas and Althusser claimed Marxism as a science as the Communist Party of China still does , a form of knowledge that stood outside of the ideology it analysed. There was much to be learned from humanities-based, in-close analysis of contextualised constructions of meanings where power is reproduced. In a sense, this was like the taxonomic phase of Linnaean botany — identifying and classifying the systemic connections among types of cultural action lived experience or artefact text.
Instead, cultural studies turned back to evaluation based now on political affiliation not aesthetics. Not surprisingly, then, the computational and evolutionary sciences are becoming ever more confident about explaining culture.
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Method, media, and teleology Does it follow that humanities-based disciplines are of declining utility? What can they offer to the study of culture as a science? What is bringing science and the humanities together is evolution — the adaptation of complex systems to change. What drew me to the field? A product of a literary-historical education i. Indeed, cultural studies was a powerful tool for showing how subjectivity had thoroughly invaded and compromised the supposed objectivity of knowledge and of structures based on differential evaluations.
This was one of the attractions of cultural studies. But it was also good theory, for experience, identity, and reflexivity — the politics of the personal — were part of an important challenge to positivism and scientism, not least by feminism.
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There is a vital distinction to be made here. Instead, it broke the previously tight bond between three different types of teleological tendency:. The first kind of teleology is inevitable, a spur to action by individuals, and capable of being studied. The second two types are impossible, leading to bad science. What is it that can study and understand change including purposeful agency without falling for the wrong sort of teleology? They used this trivial but telling moment to trace the cumulative causal sequence of hegemony in post-WW2 Britain, and to theorise that it was in crisis.
He used it to contextualise his study of the change from medieval pain-of-death to modern administrative methods of government, and to theorise that these amounted to what he called panopticism. An ordinary event — minor, local and sometimes confronting — becomes the means by which a much larger and more complex set of historical determinations can be unravelled.
Needless to say, it was not accepted as conjunctural by many observers close the scene at the time. However, the critics had a point. This was doubtless another example of New-Labour spin of the kind that so infuriated the academic left as well as the media throughout the Blair decade. There was also much to criticise about the DCMS definition of the creative industries, including the inclusion of certain sectors or the exclusion of others for purely local reasons, i. So it was hardly surprising that it was regarded as unworthy, compromised by short-term self-interest, parochial boosterism, political spin and bad reviews.
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Nevertheless, the moment of the creative industries may still yield important insights into longer-term changes in and among culture, the economy and politics, and not just in the UK. Internationally, the idea was quickly adopted and customised to local requirements in different countries across Europe, Asia and Australasia.
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But that was not all — it was also purposeful , seeking to do something about culture, not simply to produce a finished definition. The DCMS document sought to identify the source of economic value in creative production. That is what we have been trying to do at the CCI. From creative industries to cultural science Here we have benefitted from an intense encounter with economics.
It transpires that economics is every bit as turbulent as cultural studies, some of whose most familiar issues are mirrored in economics. Thus the productive interlocutor turned out to be neither neoclassical economics nor political economy, but evolutionary economics. Like cultural studies in its early days, evolutionary economics occupied a marginal, agent-provocateur position in relation to mainstream neoclassical economics.
Both were the disruptive irritant that, along with complexity science, sought to reconfigure the nineteenth century disciplinary knowledge system Lee We have found this dialogue both provocative and productive, just as did the pioneers of cultural studies in their encounters with their interdisciplinary neighbours. We have concluded that the cutting-edge of research on creativity lies in the triangulation of three domains: evolution, complexity, and creative innovation.
This interdisciplinary interface is counterintuitive but highly productive:. These developments, added to those coming from anthropology, cultural studies and creative arts, enable us to rethink creativity as a property of agency in dynamic systems, not as an expression of the essence of uniquely talented individuals. In order to test the potential of this new direction, we sought to bring together researchers from around the world, who could help to shape a research agenda.
FEAST is an Australian-EU treaty organisation, and this was the first such event they had supported outside of the traditional sciences. Social network markets and other novelties The future-oriented view of this group is that creativity — both expert and amateur — is driving change in the nature of markets as well as dynamic growth in creative sectors like digital content. In such company, culture can no longer be seen as the preserve of artists; nor can innovation remain the preserve of corporate engineers.
Both require the activities and productivity of the millions who interact in the social networks that are now dispersed among whole populations. With the growing ubiquity of digital media these are becoming a more dynamic source of productivity than industrial-era innovation based on expert invention and the closed pipeline of the corporately controlled value-chain. Already, this work is gaining traction. Like markets, science, the law and other such social technologies, creativity is required in order to enable individual choice, agency and enterprise to be conducted in a rule-governed but open-ended environment.
Individual choices are determined by the choices of others Potts et al , and thus markets are systems made up of those who are paying attention to certain types of choice. Here again, we bump up against work that is already under way in neighbouring disciplines such as network theory, web-science and internet studies.
Tele-ology: Studies in Television | Belanger | Canadian Journal of Communication
Theory-building is also vital, to model how such actions may be patterned in complex adaptive systems, and how agents and enterprises navigate those systems. Again, such work is already well under way, for instance in ANT and its successor techniques see Hawkins for a good example. This is a thoroughgoing evolutionary approach to creativity and culture.
It is:. I submit that the externalist approach to human knowledge boils down to the cultural science paradigm. Cultural science explains human knowledge in terms of naturalism and externalism, and therefore uses an evolutionary paradigm to investigate the generation, diffusion and maintenance of human knowledge. Markets as an outcome of cultural evolution are part and parcel of the knowledge structures that underlie individual action in markets.
Thus we seek to account not only for creativity but for the knowledge structures — including markets — within which it operates. No predictions? But it does have ambitions, as the Cultural Science website says:. An important focus for future work must be population-wide analysis in an evolutionary approach. But it has not followed through on the implication of this move. We need to understand cultural, creative and knowledge systems across whole populations. This is why we have taken a strong interest in systems where consumer productivity and user co-creation are important features, including in the games industry, because it is clear that innovation occurs in the interaction between producers and consumers, professionals and players, and not within the confines of the production company.
However, in this context new problems arise. The main issue for cultural science at the moment may be the question of institutions for coordinating and scaling creative innovation: How do large-scale systems self-organise when productive agency is adding to their scale and complexity every day? How are individual actions organised into clusters, rules, hierarchies, how are these related to each other, and what causal force does institutional agency exert on the system as a whole? Social networks self-organise via institutional forms, a process of coordination that forms one of the main objects of cultural science inquiry.
Nor are we any longer in a cultural universe where individual access to creative culture — i. Now, the information-universe is too large — or in economic terms transaction costs are too high — for mere access to ensure intellectual freedom; organisational forms and interactions also determine how individual agency operates in practice.
New attention is needed to trace and understand the role of selection, management, order and redaction in networks and archives even as they continue to expand faster than exponentially. A further problem is that of distribution. How widespread is this pattern of distribution in cultural and media forms?
follow url The possibility needs to be tested that relationships previously regarded as in opposition e. In other words, is what separates celebrities like Paris Hilton or Stephen Fry from the rest of us simply the number of connections they have within a social network market? Certainly such things are avidly measured — the number of friends on Facebook, or followers on Twitter, is publicly monitored and if of sufficient scale is itself cause for further celebrity coverage.
In the CCI we have been pursuing this question by focusing on user co-created content — games Banks , YouTube Burgess , fashion Montgomery , digital storytelling Hartley. It does seem at the very least that we need to focus on probabilities in large-scale systems e. But an alternative view comes from a surprising source. It turns out that this is the chosen weapon with which to oppose the status quo. Alan Tomlinson.