“Inventing the New: Innovation in Creative Enterprises”


“Inventing the New: Innovation in Creative Enterprises”

Northwestern University, April 8th and 9th, 2016

Organized by Claudio E. Benzecry and Pablo J. Boczkowski

A Lambert Family Communication Conference

Northwestern University – School of Communication


Where and how does innovation happen? Who are the key actors that translate what has been done before into something different? And what is the role of face-to-face interaction, of conventions and of organizations in allowing (or blocking) for creativity to flourish? What is the role of networks in producing the diffusion of innovative cultural products and practices? Are there any particular social locations that favor the production of innovative cultural forms? Is it better to be in the core or in the periphery of a field? And what are the elements that have to be in place for inventive uses to develop? What are the new ways of doing that result from the destabilization of existing patterns thanks to technological disruption? And what is the relationship between copying and making something anew? Who are the actors benefited and which are the ones who suffer when innovation happens?

Over the last decade or so scholars of communication, sociology, anthropology and science studies have developed parallel lines of study that have explored the role of networks, actors, interaction, organizations and technology in fostering innovation in creative enterprises, but have nevertheless been less interested in engaging in conversation with one another. This event aims to foster fruitful interdisciplinary conversations about the emergence, evolution, and social and political impact of innovation in the creative sector. To this end, it will bring together scholars at various stages of career development and from various disciplinary backgrounds–from communication and sociology to management and anthropology. Moreover, these scholars will draw upon a spectrum of theoretical and methodological resources and focus on a wide array of objects of study.


Keynote Address:

Pierre-Michel Menger, College de France



Panel 1: What’s new?

Millenarian Tinkering: Or, Why is Everyone Making? – Fred Turner, Stanford University, Communication Studies

Rethinking Television: Broadband-Distributed Portals and the Logics of a Subscription Model Amanda Lotz, Communication, University of Michigan

“From Private Play to Public Entertainment”? The rise of game live-streaming and the variety caster – T.L. Taylor, Comparative Media Studies, MIT

Brand Warfare and the Demobilization of FARC Rebels in Colombia – Alex Fattal, Film and Video Studies, Pennsylvannia State University


Panel 2: Geographies and scales of innovation

Tracking Global Trajectories of Cultural Valuation: The Case of Gabriel Orozco – Larissa Buchholz, Society of Fellows, Harvard University

Show, Scene & Space: Musicians, opportunity structures, and Geographies of Genre – Jonathan R. Wynn, Sociology, University of Massachusetts – Amherst

Building Indiewood in a Hollywood World: The Role of Intermediaries in Creating Market Categories – Mukti Kahire, Organizational Behavior, Harvard Business School


Panel 3: Communities of innovation

“Fairer Uses” in a Qualitative Study of Borrowing Practices Among Everyday Creators and Innovators- Jessica Silbey, Law, Northeastern University

Innovation and its Discontents. Some Insights from the Kitchen – Vanina Leschziner, Sociology, University of Toronto

Fold networks in creative explosionsBalazs Vedres, Sociology and Center for Network Science, Central European University


Panel 4: Materials for the new / new materials

Digital objects as partial possessions: creativity, authenticity and property in the case of digital art.- Fernando Dominguez, Communication, University of California – San Diego

Innovation in 1867 Paris: How the Production and Reception of Japanese-Style Ceramics Spurred the Emergence of Modernism – Sonia Coman, Art History, Columbia

Like Prescription Sunglasses: Radical subjectivity and the moral innovation of personalized audio – Joseph Klett, Sociology, University of California – Santa Cruz