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The SpontanLab Project in Malmö: A Sociological Thesis Concerning the Birth of New Political Concepts.

Görtz, Daniel (2008)
Sociology
Abstract
In the spring of 2008 the municipality of Malmö initiated a small-scale project called "SpontanLab" in which the local cultural department issued SEK 1 million to fund a "laboratory for spontaneous culture". This meant paying social scientists to produce knowledge that could be economically, socially and culturally useful, as well as politically useful to the elected red-green majority. The social scientists were to define what the term "spontaneous culture" could mean in Malmö, and make suggestions about how the cultural activities that would be categorised under this term could benefit the city of Malmö. The project also included an attempt to build networks stretching between the business sector and the cultural producers such as the... (More)
In the spring of 2008 the municipality of Malmö initiated a small-scale project called "SpontanLab" in which the local cultural department issued SEK 1 million to fund a "laboratory for spontaneous culture". This meant paying social scientists to produce knowledge that could be economically, socially and culturally useful, as well as politically useful to the elected red-green majority. The social scientists were to define what the term "spontaneous culture" could mean in Malmö, and make suggestions about how the cultural activities that would be categorised under this term could benefit the city of Malmö. The project also included an attempt to build networks stretching between the business sector and the cultural producers such as the music scene, the nightlife, the arts (including street art), design, fashion and Internet communities. This project is part of a larger political and scholarly movement of "creative development" that attempts to meet the challenges of late modern urban development by promoting the cultural creativity of cities. A leading paradigm in this area is the idea of a "creative class" that needs to be attracted and nurtured in order for a creative economy to blossom. Richard Florida is the principal author of this concept. The SpontanLab project in Malmö works from a somewhat differing perspective, viewing the "ethical economy" as the greatest driving force in creative development.

This thesis applies a sociology of knowledge to this discourse, and attempts to use it as an example of how new concepts are created within urban politics today. It is first and foremost a theoretical thesis, aiming at showing the usefulness of the critical realist paradigm. It outlines the structural foundations of the "creative development" discourse, examines the specific conditions of the municipality of Malmö, and from this attempts to understand how and why new knowledge was produced within SpontanLab. It argues that neither a social constructionist nor materialist approach are fully able understand this development. It also examines the interaction between the political and scholarly fields and how this interaction shapes the production of new knowledge.

The thesis argues that there are limitations to this mode of knowledge production, primarily because the radical tendencies of new knowledge, (and thereby the social scientist's role as an intellectual) are likely to be lost in the process of institutionalisation; a process which ensues as soon as a new concept becomes politically and economically interesting to political actors. (Less)
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author
Görtz, Daniel
supervisor
organization
year
type
M2 - Bachelor Degree
subject
keywords
the sociology of knowledge, urban development, creative industries, creative class, ethical economy, spontaneous culture, political concepts, critical realism, Malmö, Social sciences, Samhällsvetenskaper, Sociology, Sociologi, Social structures, Sociala strukturer
language
English
id
1317949
date added to LUP
2008-09-05
date last changed
2011-05-12 15:48:37
@misc{1317949,
  abstract     = {In the spring of 2008 the municipality of Malmö initiated a small-scale project called "SpontanLab" in which the local cultural department issued SEK 1 million to fund a "laboratory for spontaneous culture". This meant paying social scientists to produce knowledge that could be economically, socially and culturally useful, as well as politically useful to the elected red-green majority. The social scientists were to define what the term "spontaneous culture" could mean in Malmö, and make suggestions about how the cultural activities that would be categorised under this term could benefit the city of Malmö. The project also included an attempt to build networks stretching between the business sector and the cultural producers such as the music scene, the nightlife, the arts (including street art), design, fashion and Internet communities. This project is part of a larger political and scholarly movement of "creative development" that attempts to meet the challenges of late modern urban development by promoting the cultural creativity of cities. A leading paradigm in this area is the idea of a "creative class" that needs to be attracted and nurtured in order for a creative economy to blossom. Richard Florida is the principal author of this concept. The SpontanLab project in Malmö works from a somewhat differing perspective, viewing the "ethical economy" as the greatest driving force in creative development.

This thesis applies a sociology of knowledge to this discourse, and attempts to use it as an example of how new concepts are created within urban politics today. It is first and foremost a theoretical thesis, aiming at showing the usefulness of the critical realist paradigm. It outlines the structural foundations of the "creative development" discourse, examines the specific conditions of the municipality of Malmö, and from this attempts to understand how and why new knowledge was produced within SpontanLab. It argues that neither a social constructionist nor materialist approach are fully able understand this development. It also examines the interaction between the political and scholarly fields and how this interaction shapes the production of new knowledge.

The thesis argues that there are limitations to this mode of knowledge production, primarily because the radical tendencies of new knowledge, (and thereby the social scientist's role as an intellectual) are likely to be lost in the process of institutionalisation; a process which ensues as soon as a new concept becomes politically and economically interesting to political actors.},
  author       = {Görtz, Daniel},
  keyword      = {the sociology of knowledge,urban development,creative industries,creative class,ethical economy,spontaneous culture,political concepts,critical realism,Malmö,Social sciences,Samhällsvetenskaper,Sociology,Sociologi,Social structures,Sociala strukturer},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The SpontanLab Project in Malmö: A Sociological Thesis Concerning the Birth of New Political Concepts.},
  year         = {2008},
}