HomeAnimation as Cultural Industry? Designing and Making Cartoons

Animation as Cultural Industry? Designing and Making Cartoons

L’animation comme industrie culturelle ? Concevoir et produire le dessin animé

RFSIC Journal - #18 CFP

Revue RFSIC - N°18

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Published on Friday, May 10, 2019 by Anastasia Giardinelli


The scientific journal RFSIC (Revue Française des Sciences de l'Information et de la Communication) is pleased to invite contributors to submit articles for its special issue "Animation as Cultural Industry? Designing and Making Cartoons" (#18). This special issue consequently aims at highlighting the processes through which animation projects are designed and put into production, by bringing together contributions and researchers that engage with such questions. Thus, an essential task is still to better document the working conditions of animation professionals, whose occupations and situations are so diverse. But how can we report the organization of such production systems, in which many projects stop at their early stages while the lucky ones take years to be completed? How to describe and classify the multiple and complex “chains of cooperation” (Becker, 1982) of each one?



Even though academic interest for the animated medium remains on the fringe of media studies, it seems to have gained much importance during in the last few decades (Crafton, 1982; Pilling, 1997; Lamarre, 2008; Wells, 2012). Following the impetus of the thriving “animation studies” in the English-speaking context and the pioneering work of the Society for Animation Studies (SAS) founded in 1987, scientific research on animation has started to spread across different linguistic areas and countries. Nevertheless, animation as a field of research still appears in a state of dispersal and fragmentation, marked by recurrent tropisms. Indeed, due to their dependence to related scientific projects or events, the works conducted on animation and its multiple formats and techniques have been developed within different disciplinary fields, such as film and media studies, communication studies, history or sociology, but in a certain state of unawareness of one another (Pilling, 1998; Denis, 2011). They also have been mainly focused on aesthetics and contents –and to some extent on reception–, putting aside the practical conditions of the making of animation.

A growing number of books, documentaries or DVD-bonuses may have already offered some insights into what happens “behind-the-scene”, as did so –more seriously– some general historical and theoretical works on animation (Furniss, 2016), studies devoted to major studios like Disney or Pixar (Wasko, 2001), or others focused on specialized television channels (Hendershot, 2004). Nevertheless, the design and production process of animated programs have rarely been systematically tackled by social sciences, and socio-economical approaches of the animation market appears almost non-existent. Those blind spots left by academia are related the periodic illegitimacy of animation, which is clearly linked to its reduction both to television programs and children products. In this context, ethnographical studies like Ian Condry’s work on anime studios (Condry, 2013) or Dana Lemish’s on gender in animated cartoons (Lemish, 2010), can be considered as pioneering. More recently, the one-day symposium “La fabrique de l’animation” (“The making of animation”), organized in June 2017 in Paris, which sought to raise visibility on this type of research and to develop dialogue between researchers, has rather been a first step than culmination. From the perspective of countries, like France, where animation remains, despite everything, a flourishing industry, with animation schools and young professionals with international appeal (Mérijeau & Roffat, 2015), this state of the art seems nothing but paradoxical.

This special issue consequently aims at highlighting the processes through which animation projects are designed and put into production, by bringing together contributions and researchers that engage with such questions. Thus, an essential task is still to better document the working conditions of animation professionals, whose occupations and situations are so diverse. But how can we report the organization of such production systems, in which many projects stop at their early stages while the lucky ones take years to be completed? How to describe and classify the multiple and complex “chains of cooperation” (Becker, 1982) of each one? Benefitting from the input of previous works previously undertaken in diverse academic fields, the purpose of this issue is indeed to discuss the potential approaches (theoretical and empirical) that could be useful to comprehend the production of animation, taken in its broadest sense, i.e. from the first steps of the creation to the practical manufacturing and broadcasting moments. The collection’s goal is therefore to question the specificity of animation and its qualification as a cultural industry.

So as to initiate the discussions at stake, we invite contributors to address the following (but not exhaustive) research directions:

Animation and its modes of cooperation

Following decisive works on cultural industries (Hesmondhalgh, 2012; Johnson & al., 2014) and the recent rise of production studies (Mayer & al., 2009; Arsenault & Perren, 2016), the work of animation professionals and their daily practices should appear as a central issue. Indeed, how can research follow up and document the multiple stages of the animation production? How to analyze the diversity of artistic professions (authors, animators, filmmakers, story-boarders, voice actors…) as well as their skills and crafts, while some of them remain particularly understudied? Existing research on the collective nature of creation in the cinema industry (Caldwell, 2008; Rot & de Verdalle, 2013) or on the role of cultural intermediaries (Maguire & Matthews, 2014; Jeanpierre & Roueff, 2014) should be helpful to understand how those professionals cooperate (Holian, 2015). In particular, articles addressing the question of the existing tensions within the animation industry –regarding gender, generations, schools of thought, etc.– or technical antagonisms –craftsmanship vs. industry, analogic vs. digital technology (Noesser, 2016)– are expected.

The animation industry: organizing, financing and broadcasting

The production of animated series and feature films deeply relies on specific financing and economic models (Creton, 2014) which comprehension requires to conduct studies among animation producers. Analyzing the specificity of animation production, in comparison to the situation in the film or in other cultural industries, might also shed some light on this subject. Thereby, papers dealing with the institutional and political contexts, as well as the financing of animation projects, will be highly appreciated: for instance, such works could explain why the French and European animation have continued to develop despite the powerful Japanese anime and American cartoons (Mousseau, 1982), but any other international perspective will be considered. Moreover, it is essential to scientifically include animation broadcasting, be it the film circulation through festivals, the work done by cinema distributors, and of course the role played by television channels which are indispensable in the financing and production processes (Stabile & Harrison, 2003; Jost & Chambat-Houillon, 2003), since they have their own problematics. Finally, the moral and regulation constraints which apply to audiovisual material may be also examined. The institutions (e.g. the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel in France), associations (e.g. the “Parents-Teachers Associations” in Japan) or other entities (e.g. the “Standards and Practices” departments in American television channels; see Cohen, 2004), which directly affect professionals’ working conditions and attitudes could inspire very interesting studies.

Animation and media circulations

Looking more broadly into cultural industries and their boundaries (Bouquillon & al., 2013), article proposals focusing on the circulation of animated contents are expected. Animation often plays a central part in contemporary media circulations and one can wonder to what extent the industry has (or had) to adapt its production routines due to licensing or cross/transmedia strategies (Johnson, 2013; Kinder, 1991; Steinberg, 2012). How then has been animation associated to other “new” media (video games, Internet, apps) and what are the implications for animation professionals? Interrogating such aspects of animation circulation should contribute to the understanding of the interactions between cultural industries, as well as the building of contemporary fictional worlds (Brougère, 2008; Condry, 2013; Besson, 2015).

Special Issue Editors

Sébastien François and Marie Pruvost-Delaspre

Submission Information

Submitted papers, of a maximum of 40,000 characters including spaces, should be sent before July 15th 2019 to the coordinators: sebastien.francois@rocketmail.com and marie.pruvost-delaspre@univ-paris8.fr

They will then be peer-reviewed in a double-blind process by the scientific committee. Instructions on format and citations may be found at: https://journals.openedition.org/rfsic/401

The issue #18 is expected to be published by the end of 2019/first trimester of 2020.


BECKER Howard, 1982, Art Worlds, Berkeley, University of California Press, 379 p.

BESSON Anne, 2015, Constellations : Des mondes fictionnels dans l’imaginaire contemporain, Paris, CNRS, 560 p.

BOUQUILLION Philippe, MIEGE Bernard & MOEGLIN Pierre, 2013, L’Industrialisation des biens symboliques : Les industries créatives en regard des industries culturelles, Grenoble, PUG, 252 p.

CRAFTON Donald, Before Mickey: The Animated Film, 1898-1928, Boston, MIT Press, 1982.

CRETON Laurent, 2014, Économie du cinéma, Paris, Armand Colin, 295 p.

CRETON Laurent, DEHEE Yannick, LAYERLE Sébastien & MOINE Caroline, 2011, Les Producteurs : Enjeux créatifs, enjeux financiers, Paris, Nouveau Monde Éditions, 392 p.

COHEN Karl, 2004, Forbidden Animation. Censored Cartoons and Blacklisted Animators in America, Jefferson, McFarland, 230 p.

CONDRY Ian, 2013, The Soul of Anime: Collaborative Creativity and Japan’s Media Success Story, Durham, Duke University Press, 241 p.

DENIS Sébastien, 2017, Le Cinéma d’animation, Paris, A. Colin (3ème éd.), 320 p.

FURNISS, Maureen, 2016, A New History of Animation, New York, Thames & Hudson, 464 p.

HENDERSHOT Heather (ed.), 2004, Nickelodeon Nation. The History, Politics, and Economics of America’s Only TV Channel for Kids, New York, New York University Press, 304 p.

HESMONDHALGH David, 2012, The Cultural Industries, Londres, SAGE Publications Ltd, 480 p.

HOLIAN Heather, 2013, « Art, Animation and the Collaborative Process », Animation Studies Journal, volume 8, available at https://journal.animationstudies.org/heather-holian-art-animation-and-the-collaborative-process/, consulted on January, 11th 2019.

JEANPIERRE Laurent & ROUEFF Olivier, 2014, La Culture et ses intermédiaires, Paris, Archives contemporaines, 267 p.

JOHNSON Derek, 2013, Media Franchising: Creative License and Collaboration in the Culture Industries, New York, New York University Press, 300 p.

JOHNSON Derek, KOMPARE Derek & SANTO Avi, 2014, Making Media Work: Cultures of Management in the Entertainment Industries, New York, New York University Press, 336 p.

JOST François & CHAMBAT-HOUILLON Marie-France, 2003, « Parents-enfants : regards croisés sur les dessins animés », Informations sociales, 111. 62-71.

LAMARRE Thomas, 2008, « Animation Studies », The Semiotic Review of Books, 17:3. 1‑5

LEMISH Dafna, 2010, Screening Gender on Children’s Television: The Views of Producers around the World, Londres/New York, Routledge, 240 p.

MAGUIRE Jennifer Smith & MATTHEWS Julian, 2014, The Cultural Intermediaries Reader, Londres/New York, SAGE Publications Ltd, 256 p.DOI : 10.4135/9781473912281

MAYER Vicky, BANKS Miranda & CALDWELL John Thornton (ed.), 2009, Production Studies: Cultural Studies of Media Industries, New York, Routledge, 255 p.

MERIJEAU Lucie & ROFFAT Sébastien (2015), « L’animation à l’université française, un enseignement en quête d’identification », Mise au point. Cahiers de l’association française des enseignants et chercheurs en cinéma et audiovisuel, no 7, available at https://journals.openedition.org/map/1972, consulted on January 11th 2019.

MOUSSEAU Jacques, 1982, « Plaidoyer pour une industrie française du dessin animé », Communication et langages, 52 :1. 82‑89.DOI : 10.3406/colan.1982.1466

NOESSER Cécile, 2016, La Résistible ascension du cinéma d’animation : socio-genèse d’un cinéma-bis en France (1950-2010), Paris, L’Harmattan, 308 p.

PILLING Jayne (ed.), 1997, A Reader In Animation Studies, Londres, John Libbey Publishing, 283 p.

ROT Gwenaële & DE VERDALLE Laure (ed.), 2013, Le Cinéma : travail et organisation, Paris, La Dispute, 236 p.

STABILE Carol & HARRISON Mark (ed.), 2003, Prime Time Animation: Television Animation and American Culture, Londres/New York, Routledge, 254 p.

STEINBERG Marc, 2012, Anime’s Media Mix: Franchising Toys and Characters in Japan, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 314 p.

WASKO Janet, 2001, Understanding Disney: The Manufacture of Fantasy, Cambridge, Polity, 261 p.

WELLS Paul, 2012, « Animation and the Animated Film », Oxford Bibliographies, available at http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199791286/obo-9780199791286-0076.xml, consulted on January 11th 2019.


  • Monday, July 15, 2019


  • animation,dessin animé,dessin,animé,production,studies,conception,dessins,dessins animés,animés,cinéma,télévision


  • Sébastien FRANCOIS
    courriel : sebastien [dot] francois [at] rocketmail [dot] com
    courriel : marie [dot] pruvost-delaspre [at] univ-paris8 [dot] fr

Information source

  • Sébastien FRANCOIS
    courriel : sebastien [dot] francois [at] rocketmail [dot] com

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« Animation as Cultural Industry? Designing and Making Cartoons », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, May 10, 2019, https://calenda.org/612565

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