CAMEo is an interdisciplinary research institute that focuses on the dynamic relations between culture, media and economy. We study how these relations are played out in the contexts of the cultural and creative industries, media and the arts. We use the term ‘cultural and media economies’ inclusively, to capture the whole range of productive dynamics that characterise these various industries and activities.
We understand ‘culture’ in a broad sense, encompassing the arts and established media, such as film, television and music, but also emerging cultural spaces like social media and computer gaming. Our interests also include what some would consider peripheral cultural industries, such as fashion, food and drink: industries that depend on, and reproduce both economic and cultural relations, material commodities and signification.
We understand ‘economy’ in a similarly broad sense. ‘Economy’ draws attention to the material, political, financial and regulatory contexts and outcomes of cultural production but also to the hierarchical processes of valuation and ordering that take place within cultural policy, production and consumption: processes that value some forms of culture as intrinsic goods, as ‘high’ or ‘low’, or mark out social classes through their cultural knowledge and practice.
Our third concern is with ‘media’: the materials and processes of mediation, from the screens that mediate forms of everyday communication and cultural consumption, to the processes through which cultural capital can mediate careers. Here we are particularly interested in the ways that the economics of specific media influence the cultural content of their outputs.
These understandings combine into the following assumptions about cultural and media economies:
- Cultural and media economies involve both provisioning and meaning; they generate, distribute and accumulate different kinds of goods, incomes, and resources, as well as provide contexts for human identity, difference, community and division.
- There are tensions between the ‘economic’ values of instrumentality, measure and calculation and the ‘cultural’ values of aesthetics, ethics and politics. These tensions might appear hostile or antagonistic but can also be enabling and productive.
- Cultural and media economies are sites of contestation and competition for wealth, power, prestige and opportunity. While this competition can aid social mobility, it can also reinforce established social divisions and even generate new inequalities.
- Cultural and media economies exhibit distinctive materialities and textures; they create and circulate objects that help mediate new social relations of cultural production and consumption.
- While cultural and media economies are material, they are also mediated, represented and imaginatively-made; rendering them both objective and subjectively-constructed through discourse, ideology and fantasy.
- Cultural and media economies are affective and emotional as much as they are rationally conceived and consciously planned. Their effects are embodied and felt as well as calculated and abstracted into signs and symbols.
We invite anyone interested in the cultural and media economies to join the conversation about these assumptions and to discuss, challenge and develop our understanding of these vital parts of our societies.