Research Seminar with Toby Bennett and Fabrizio Montanari

Thursday 11th July 4.00pm – 5.15pm

Seminar Room, 7 Salisbury Road, Leicester

This place gives me space: Urban features shaping creative workers’ careers 

Fabrizio Montanari, Associate Professor of Organization Studies, UNIMORE, Italy.

Creative labor markets present some peculiar features such as short-term contracts, freelance work, and high mobility that can be considered paradigmatic of work in the contemporary gig economy. Within this economic context, the outcomes for individuals are twofold: a potentially beneficial flexible organization of work, on the one side; and a potentially negative volatility, precariousness, and disengagement from a more stable organization of work, on the other. Such trends raise some questions underlying our research: Do space and spatiality still play a role in the contemporary economic context? Do the features of the urban context where creative workers operate affect their activities and career? What is the potential role of the so-called collaborative spaces (e.g., fablabs, co-working spaces, creative hubs)? To the purpose of discussion, I will present the preliminary results of a qualitative study conducted on a sample of 142 creative workers operating in Reggio Emilia, a medium-sized city in the north of Italy.

Having an argument through cultural development 

Toby Bennett, Research Fellow, School of Media Arts and Technology, Solent University, UK

Southampton is not an ideal-typical “Creative City” (indeed, it is a recognised “Crap Town”); nonetheless, it is an aspiring “UK City of Culture”. Current preparations to bid for this nationally recognised status next year present an opportunity to observe and participate in the process of “Cultural Development”. I want to present the latter as a strategy not just of enabling resources and momentum but of collaborative knowledge production; more precisely, of making a persuasive argument – gaining legitimacy by simultaneously building evidence and enthusiasm. “Making” an argument is closely related to “having” an argument, and this process is structured by deep tensions among various stakeholders as to who owns, shapes, performs, represents, or is represented in, the city’s identity. From the perspective of the researcher thrown into a milieu of de facto “knowledge exchange” (via the university-as-stakeholder), this presentation will look at a range of methods and devices that have been deployed in order to explore/manage these tensions, to produce evidential data, and to foster enthusiasm.