HomeCreative Economies. An International Paradigm in European Cities

HomeCreative Economies. An International Paradigm in European Cities

*  *  *

Published on Monday, November 06, 2017


This conference explores the paradigm of “creative economies” and its heuristic potentials and pitfalls when applied to European cities. This half-day event is based on presentations by international experts and a round table with representatives from culture, politics and economy.


International Workshop, November 24th 2017, 14:00-18:00, Institute of Sociology, University of St.Gallen, Switzerland



This conference explores the paradigm of “creative economies” and its heuristic potentials and pitfalls when applied to European cities. This half-day event is based on presentations by international experts and a round table with representatives from culture, politics and economy.

For several years now the “creative economies” have kept sociological as well as cultural policy agendas busy throughout Europe and beyond. From the Lisbon Agenda on the innovation and learning economy (2000) and the Europe 2020 Strategy for Growth and Jobs launched in 2010 to the recent United Nations Creative Economy Report (2013), emphasis has been put on the pivotal role of creative work and the importance of sectors based on creativity for the economic, social, and political development of countries. At the same time, respective discourses have become prominent objects of criticism. Can creativity and culture foster economic, social, political well-being in different national and local settings? What actual or potential contradictions have to be taken into account? How can the various outcomes and implications of culture industry policies be grasped?

Set up by the Research Committee Sociology of Arts and Culture (CR-SAC) of the Swiss Sociological Associations (SSA) with the Institute of Sociology of the University of St. Gallen, this follow up event of the international Congress "Art & Market" of November 2016 brings together researchers and students, professionals in the field of arts, culture, cultural policy and economy as well a wider audience and the media.                                                 


  • Prof. Dr. Ilja van Damme (University of Antwerpen)
  • Prof. Dr. Simon Grand (University of St. Gallen)
  • Dr. Janet Merkel (University of London)
  • Dr. Elsa Vivant (University of Paris 8)
  • Prof. Dr. Christoph Weckerle (ZHdK, Zurich)


  • Dr. Dave O'Brien (University of Edinburgh)

Organising Committee

  • Olivier Moeschler (University of Lausanne),
  • Andrea Glauser (University of Lucerne) & Valérie Rolle (University of Nantes) of the CR-SAC Research Committee Sociology of Arts and Culture (Foko-KUKUSO) of the SSA &Franz Schultheis,
  • Thomas Mazzurana & Patricia Holder (Institute of Sociology, University of St. Gallen)

Contact: art&market@unisg.ch 


  • Introduction by the moderator, Dr. Dave O'Brien (University of Edinburgh)
  • Did the ‘creative city’ ever happen? On contradictions and complexities of the ‘creative economy’ imaginary in cities, Dr. Janet Merkel (University of London)

Since the 1980s, the ‘creative economy’ imaginary (O'Connor, 2015) has captured the political imagination in cultural and economic policymaking on the urban, regional, national and supranational level. Especially in cities, culture and creativity have become a subject to policy interventions and measurements to promote the economic potential of culture and creative industries under the notion of the creative economy. The revaluation of culture and creativity have given rise to the ‘creative city’ idea (see Florida, 2004; Hall, 1998; Landry & Bianchini, 1995), an urban development approach based on culture and creativity. Ever since, ‘creative city’ strategies have had a ubiquitous presence in urban development and marketing discourses and led to a variegated research literature on ‘creative cities’. Their proliferation and implementation in urban policies produced a wide range of academic critique, which in turn has hardly found entrance into the implementation of creative city strategies. Recent publications suggest that the ‘creative city’ has to be critically reassessed or even abandoned as the socially and culturally progressive notions of the ‘creative city’ have been lost in urban economic growth agendas (Mould, 2015; O’Connor & Shaw, 2014). Furthermore, there has been surprisingly little attempts to understand the organisational novelty of culture and creative industries and the subsequent consequences for their governance in cities (Pratt, 2012). My contribution to the symposium will explore some of the various social, cultural, economic and political contradictions within conceptual and political approaches of ‘creative cities.’ In particular, it will address the prevailing ‘creativity policy gap’ (Borén & Young, 2013; Trip & Romein, 2014) and the lack of governance debates, and will discuss this briefly through the empirical case of Berlin.

  • The Creative Industries as a Tool for City Making. The Case of Plaine Commune, the “territoire de la culture et de la creation” (Norh of Paris) Dr. Elsa Vivant (University of Paris 8)

Many researches had shown how the metropolis can offer economic advantage to creative industries that can be engine for local economic development. In this presentation, I will focus on the case of a northern suburb of Paris, Plaine Commune, to show how creative industries can be a tool for planning itself. This former industrial city is redeveloping its economy toward service industry for more than twenty years. Recently, this had reframed its territorial development project under the name of “Territoire de la Culture et de la Creation”. I will first explain the context of this reorientation and especially the cultural contexts. Then I’ll show how real estate developers are also considering the development of spaces for creative industries as a tool in their negotiations with public authorities. I will at the end discuss to what extend do local creative professionals appreciate this new role they are supposed to play. 

  • From defining submarkets towards understanding value creations, Prof. Dr. Christoph Weckerle (ZHdK, Zurich) and Prof. Dr. Simon Grand (University of St. Gallen)

Different underlying narratives of value creation motivate multiple understandings of the creative economies. The combination of micro- and macro-approaches is one possible way to better understand practices and processes in this field. Based on our observations in different regions of the world we suggest a reframing of the established definitions by submarkets and, therefore, a stronger focus on the intersections with other industries. Such an approach will give importance to some of the key competences of the actors in the creative economies and will contribute to a better understanding of their ecosystem.

  • Historicizing the creative economy beyond the city: Power, discourse, materialization, Prof. Dr. Ilja van Damme (University of Antwerpen)

This paper critically challenges the current creative city debate from a historical perspective. It questions why we automatically look at cities as being principle agents of cultural and creative production. What processes have been at work historically before the predominance of cities in nurturing creativity and innovation was presumed and established? The paper proposes to look at the ‘creative city’ as not being an objective or ontological reality, but rather a complex and heterogenic ‘assemblage’, in which material, infrastructural and spatial elements become historically entangled with power-laden discourses, narratives and imaginaries about the cultural and creative industries, and the actors and places where innovation and creativity is bound to take shape.

  • Discussion by the moderator  Dr. Dave O'Brien (University of Edinburgh)



  • Institute of Sociology - Dufourstrasse 50
    St. Gallen, Switzerland (9000)


  • Friday, November 24, 2017


  • creative economy, culture industry policy


  • Thomas Mazzurana
    courriel : art&market [at] unisg [dot] ch

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Valérie Rolle
    courriel : valerie [dot] rolle [at] univ-nantes [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Creative Economies. An International Paradigm in European Cities », Study days, Calenda, Published on Monday, November 06, 2017, https://doi.org/10.58079/yg1

Archive this announcement

  • Google Agenda
  • iCal
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search