Conquering the Kingdom of Content. The Platform-Dependence and Platform-Ambivalence of Digital Cultural Labour
Hylland, O. M., Stavrum, H. S., Heian, M. T., Miland, K. P., & Kleppe, B.
September 2022, ICCPR
Cultural production is to an increasing degree characterized by digitalization, mediatization, platformization and the use of social media. In this article, we investigate the conditions, motivations, and rewards of digital cultural labour from the perspective of social media content creators. We described the experience and valuation of their cultural labour in three different areas – the products and the production, the communication and online presence, as well as the careers and strategies of such labour. In all three areas we find clear indications of a fundamental ambivalence. The production of content is experienced as a demanding and continuous endeavour, being relentlessly quantified through clicks and metrics, both in the sheer number of audience/followers/subscribers, as well as on the level of interaction. Furthermore, the content creators show the psychological toll of being of being the product or an integrated part of the product. Partly because of the challenges of continuous content production and communication with a community, as well as because of the unpredictable power of algorithms, we also see a tendency to branch out, to spread risk, or to combine platform-dependency with -independency.
Keywords: Digital cultural labour, platformization, social media, digitalization, cultural production
Pandemic cultural policy. A comparative perspective on Covid-19 measures and their effect on cultural policies in Europe
Uzelac, A., Oakley, K., Morato, A. R., Handke, C., Gidlund, K., Burri, M., Hylland, O. M., & Primorac, J.
September 2022, ICCPR
Ever since early March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has spurred a very basic question in most corners of society: what will change? The question of change and, equally, the nature, scope and duration of change, has been and still is a topic for lengthy discussions. The cultural sector and cultural policy is no exception. It has become a prevalent hypothesis among academics, analysts and commenters alike, that the current pandemic is causing structural changes in the cultural sector, or that it at least is accelerating or highlighting developments within the sector. Examples include analyses of increased online presence of cultural institutions (Agostino et al. 2020), increased platformisation (Vlassis 2021), a revision of cultural value (Meyrick and Barnett 2021) and an exposed precarity for cultural workers (Comunian and England 2020).
It is a pertinent question whether or to what extent the pandemic also affects cultural policy and the tools, organization and legitimation of such policy. So far, there have only been a small handful of studies of the relations between Covid-19 and cultural policy (OECD 2020a, KEA 2020, Betzler et al. 2020, Berge et al. 2021, IDEA Consult et al. 2021, Vlassis 2021). A notable exception can be found in the comparative analysis of Betzler et al., who underline the importance of contextual factors to understand the cultural policy measures of different countries (Betzler et al. 2020). The Covid-19 pandemic provides an opportunity to both revisit some fundamental questions for comparative cultural policy analysis as well as to ask new ones. A vantage point for this study is an aim to look at how different processes of change – long-term and short-term – interact. In particular, we are interested in the changes that are spurred by the pandemic and how this arguably exogenous shock interacts with the more long-term process of general digitalisation.
We ask: Do the different adaptions to Covid-19 confirm, reinforce or challenge existing cultural policy structures in different European countries? The basic empirical data of the paper consists of systematic overviews of Covid-19 measures directed towards the cultural sector. The primary sources have been press releases, web pages and documents from relevant public entities in the different countries: ministries, ministerial offices, public authorities and arts councils. We have also used a selection of secondary sources for the totality of measures, mainly published reports on Covid-19 measures in different countries (e.g. OECD 2020a, KEA 2020, Berge et al. 2021, IDEA Consult et al. 2021). In order to answer our questions, we have looked for traits of development that go beyond the mere description of various measures. Indicators that have been used to identify these traits, are: 1) to what degree are the different measures directed towards specific sectors?, 2) are there signs of new forms of cultural policy legitimation and ideas within the measures taken?, 3) does the different tools to mitigate the crisis represent a revised division of labour (between governmental entities, between levels of government etc.) 4) are there any signs of accelerated digital turns in the different policies? For each country included in this analysis, the authors of this paper have written separate analyses on the Covid-19-related measures for the cultural sector and on the possible effects on the structure and content of the relevant national cultural policy. These analyses form an important part of the basis for the discussion of the paper.
Keywords: Covid-19, cultural policy change, cultural policy models, digitalization
Artists’ visibility in social media – definite costs and uncertain returns?
In industries where there is a high degree of uncertainty in securing income, for instance due to informal recruitment processes, intermittent/loose forms of employment, low income etc., such as the arts, there is an increased need to be visible to potential employers or customers. The process of becoming, and staying, visible has by some scholars been described as “visibility labour” (Abidin 2016), referring to the work a person does to be noticeable and positively prominent among prospective employers, clients, the press, or followers and fans. The last 20 years or so, there are new ways of becoming (and staying) visible. The term platformization has been used to describe the interaction between platforms like Facebook or YouTube, and cultural producers (Poell, Nieborg & Duffy 2022). Given the idea that cultural production in general is more and more characterized by digitalization and platformization, one can argue that artists also need to be visible on social media platforms and therefore pushes the role of many artists and cultural producers towards the role of social media content creators.
In this paper I view visibility as a form of capital. This has been seen a form of capital distinct from Bordieu’s field theory (Heinich 2012) and have by others been described as “celebrity capital” (Driessens 2013). There is limited knowledge about how artists view social media as a mean to gain visibility capital in, for instance, career progression. Social media offers different ways of progressing, for instance by avoiding gate keepers in a traditional artist career-path. However, there are also some associated costs by gaining visibility from social media. In this paper I use empirical data from an ongoing research project to study how performing artists and visual artists relate to visibility from social media.
Keywords: Visibility capital, digital cultural labour, social media, creative workers, artists
Digital cultural policies in Europe. Adaptions and abdications
Hylland, O. M., Primorac, J., Morato, A. R., & Oakley, K.
Panel at conference
September 2022, ICCPR
What happens when cultural policy turns, or needs to turn, digital? European countries face great and similar challenges in the process of making their cultural policies coherent with a digital turn. Among the central challenges seem to be the following:
- The internationalization and integration of online markets – making national policies difficult without international collaboration.
- The emergence of central, intermediary platforms such as Amazon, Spotify, YouTube, that may develop market power and effective lobbying on both the national and international level.
- Technological convergence – making different kinds of cultural consumption centred around a small number of technical devices.
- An apparent pre-eminence of a market logic – making market value the primary value of a cultural product.
- Tax and regulation evasion – potentially diminishing national cultural budgets.
- Free trade and non-discrimination clauses in international trade agreements – making it difficult to prioritize cultural products from certain countries or a single country.
- Harmonization and coordination of policies within the EU and EFTA (European Free Trade Association) – making it necessary for national cultural policies to adjust.
Challenges like the ones summarized here seem almost self-evident. In the project that this panel is based upon, our ambition is to systematically and critically examine them in the context of both national and supra-national policies. At the same time as cultural production for a couple of decades has gradually become more digital, the influence of national political governance seems to decrease, partly due to the abovementioned challenges. How can national cultural policies respond to this, and how have they responded? One potential response is a revised form of cultural policy protectionism, aiming, more or less successfully, to uphold a national policy element in a global cultural market. Another potential response would be to shift the emphasis between different kinds of policy tools, enhancing, e.g. the importance of financial regulation as a cultural policy tool. We can also ask the question differently: what is the role of national cultural policies in shaping or creating a field of digital cultural production? The subtitle of this panel suggests that there is a difference and possibly a continuum between adaptation and abdication in this regard. This difference has to do with the role and active influence of national cultural governance and policies. Digitalization is not a force of nature or a technological tsunami that a national cultural policy simply has to tackle in one way or another. National governments and their policies are more actively involved than the established trope of digitalization as a driver of change might lead us to believe. Part of the ambition of this panel is to investigate this involvement. Europe is characterized by a certain diversity of national cultural policies. These differ on a number of parameters: the relative importance of public funding, explicit goals and ambitions, the distribution of responsibility between levels of government, the role of a welfare perspective, the level of private funding, the degree of New Public Management-influence, the level of cultural protectionism etc. Across their differences, what the national cultural policies have in common is the need to – in some way or another – relate to the abovementioned challenges. This makes for analytically fertile ground for both in-depth analysis of individual countries and a comparative analysis across them. This panel will present and compare the digital cultural policies in different European countries, that differ in several ways; e.g. in population and size, in their constitutional and political organization, and in their relation to the EU. The gross list of countries in the comparative project is Croatia, Spain, United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, Switzerland and Sweden. For this panel, we will present three national cases and one case of supranational digital cultural policies (see below).
A guiding question for this panel is whether national cultural policies, faced with digitization, have adapted or abdicated? Following the work of American philosopher of technology Andrew Feenberg, we might see this as a parallel to the difference between treating technology as something we control and something we are controlled or colonized by. Adaptation can in this regard be understood as the implementation of active measures and strategies in order to meet the pertinent challenges, while abdication denotes the opposite – a resignation, a laissez-faire perspective, an explicit view that the digital field of culture is beyond the grasp of national policies. To be sure, this is more of a continuum than it is a binary opposition. This book will analyse how different European countries can be placed on an adaptation-abdication continuum with regards to their digital cultural policies. In order to do this, we need to understand the contexts, the historical development, the rationale and the policy models that can serve to explain the differences between the countries.
In addition to describing, analysing and comparing different varieties of digital cultural policies, there is also an aim for this panel to discuss possible alternatives for future development of such policies. An ambition within any policy to ensure that there is room for manoeuvre for policy-makers; that the chosen tools and modes of action actually have influence. How can this be ensured within the field of digital and digitized culture?
THE ART OF CROWDFUNDING ARTS AND INNOVATION: THE CULTURAL ECONOMIC PERSPECTIVE
Handke,C., & Chiesa, C. D.
Journal of Cultural Economics
Crowdfunding is an innovation from the cultural sector that has found broad applications in other aspects of the economy. We document that cultural economics provides a useful structure to explain much of the crowdfunding phenomenon, which will be useful for any re-search on this topic. Based on central themes of cultural economics (including quality and demand uncertainty, socially interdependent demand formation, public good attributes, and intrinsic motivation to create), we extend on the current understanding in the crowdfunding literature regarding three fundamental questions: (1) under what circumstances is crowd-funding a superior alternative to traded means of financing innovative projects? (2) What types of crowdfunding are best suited for specific (cultural and creative) industries? (3) What is the potential of crowdfunding for cultural and creative industries? Overall, we de-scribe crowdfunding as a sophisticated and flexible tool for mitigating various, fundamental challenges in CCI and beyond. We also identify limitations of crowdfunding, which for now, severely restrict its application. Arguably, the main boon of crowdfunding for cultural economics is not so much that it makes markets (for cultural products) much more efficient and fosters growth. Instead, crowdfunding enables sophisticated empirical research on central topics of cultural economics, and a rich and diverse literature has begun lifting that treasure.