Cultures in Disarray, Kings College London 11-12 June 2015

This was originally posted on the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research blog.

Last week I presented externally for the first time at the Cultures in Disarray conference at Kings College London. It was a thoroughly enjoyable two days with many interesting talks from a variety of disciplines.

The first keynote speech was by Peter Dahlgren who talked about civic cultures and participation, characterising it as a circuit with six dimensions: knowledge, values, trust, spaces, practices and identities. I found it interesting that he drew upon the work of Bourdieu to talk about online participation as an ‘online habitus’ which is acquired through the practices and experiences of everyday life. Peter didn’t go into too much depth with this, but everyday life is something I am looking at in my PhD so it certainly got me thinking.

Peter Dahlgren

Peter Dahlgren

The talks that followed were themed around technology, then creative and cultural industries. There was a really interesting case presented by Yachiao Tu (pictured below) about the use of creative and cultural industries discourse in Taiwan to brand the city as a tourist destination. She describes how the government borrowed the UK’s discourse about creative and cultural industries, as well as the ‘Creative Britain’ strategy, and used it to brand creative and cultural industries (CCI) based tourism destinations. These include CCI hotels and parks, and she talked about the use of terms such as ‘creative life’ in the marketing discourses around these destinations. It was a real eye opener for me, to see another city adopt the UK’s creative and cultural industries strategy and almost take it to an extreme. The presenter told us that on the local TV and radio, ‘CCI’ is talked about constantly. I would really like to go to Taiwan now to see this for myself!

CCI woman (800x450)

Yachiao Tu

I presented on the second day on one aspect of my PhD – the performance of expertise on social media, with some results from my pilot study. It was really useful to hear feedback from people and their questions and suggestions about social media methodology. In particular I have to thank Roberta Comunian for her feedback which will be a great help for my next conference at the University of Westminster this week.  Expertise was mentioned a few times throughout the conference but only in passing, and afterwards a couple of people researching social media told me they had never ‘thought about expertise’ before.



The final keynote was by Nick Couldry who talked about his thoughts on the social construction of reality, arguing that the corporate attempt to construct reality needs to be interrogated. He describes how social media is increasingly the space where ‘the social’ is happening, and corporations are constructing these spaces and aggregating data to make profit. Of particular use to me was the flagging up of literature which really interrogates this, in particular a book by Ulises Mejias (2013) called Off the Network. It was a very provocative keynote and I’ll be interested to read Nick’s next book, which he is currently writing.

Nick Couldry (800x306)

Nick Couldry

To find out more about the papers presented see the book of abstracts.

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About Karen Patel

PhD candidate in social media and cultural work at Birmingham City University.
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