Ambiguous Collectives - Creative Workers and Their Integration in Urban Space

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 5:42 PM
Room: 414
Oral Presentation
Simone RACK , 4dimensions Research & Consulting Inst, Vienna, Austria
Klaus NEUNDLINGER , 4dimensions Research and Consulting Institute, Vienna, Austria
Looking at people working in the areas of arts, design, architecture, fashion, multimedia, communication and consulting, it is hardly possible to identify a more or less homogeneous “creative class” (Florida 2002) that would contribute to the competitive advantage of urban regions by producing cultural values apt to create a distinct identity in the global competition. From our point of view, they rather form ambiguous collectives that are continuously reconfigured by the transformation of urban space.

As Marazzi (1997) argues, the organisation of cooperation in post-fordist labour organisation passes from wage form to space form. Creative workers have a peculiar function within this process, because they help to transform urban space into a source for economic production and organisation. They do so by assigning symbolic value to cultural peculiarities of quarters, by exploring the limits between private and public space, between working time and leisure time, between economic interests and cultural values. Creative workers enact the game of exploring these limits as essential part of their professional and cultural identity. Yet, as stated, this form of “identity” is ambiguous, since it indeed may function as a driver for gains in social distinction, for accumulating cultural and social capital (Bourdieu 1997), but distorts and veils real differences in income and social security.

We will refer to two phenomena regarding creative workers’ use of spaces: 1) the founding of common spaces like office communities and 2) the organisation of protests against the structures of the social insurance system. This enables us to address the question if the need for collective organisation is necessarily subordinated to the capitalisation of cultural production via the valorisation of city quarters in terms of real estate prices, or if shared spaces are an opportunity for enhancing participation in the shaping of urban environments.