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Tangible Places for Intangible Products: The Role of Space in the Creative Digital Economy, Tech City, London

Borowczyk Martins, J; (2016) Tangible Places for Intangible Products: The Role of Space in the Creative Digital Economy, Tech City, London. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis explores the relationship between space and creative digital production in Shoreditch, East London (2009-2014). It seeks to identify the spatial conditions that, at multiple scales, mediate and support the operation of digital industries in inner-city locations. Drawing on ‘productionist’ approaches, which examine creative industries as an industry, work is conceptualized as six activities (producing, meeting, networking, learning, displaying, socializing) performed across four spatial settings: the extended workplace, workspaces, industry events, and the neighbourhood. This qualitative case study uses three data collection methods: semi-structured interviews with workers and industry actors, observations of selected settings, and secondary data. The area is an emergent cluster of digital firms known as ‘Silicon Roundabout’ and ‘Tech City’, providing a less explored but relevant case. The thesis’ contribution is threefold. First, it provides an empirical account of the spatiality of digital work in Shoreditch. This reveals a network of spaces used for work (base, ancillary, and events) suggesting a reconfiguration, and extension, of the ‘workplace’ in these industries. This spatial extension is limited and associated with spatial requirements of the tasks involved; the office still plays a central role in digital production. Second, the study identifies macro and micro spatial conditions that mediate and support these work patterns across the four spatial settings and advances the conceptualization of functional, social, and symbolic aspects of these relationships, expanding the understanding of why and how place matters in the digital economy. Third, the analysis reveals that ‘structured interaction’ and micro processes of spatial segregation and exclusion are critical to support a range of work and social practices in digital production. In contrast to influential accounts that associate creative cities with diversity and tolerance, at the scale of these spatial practices, processes of selection and quest for sameness underpin the operation of these industries within urban space(s).

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Tangible Places for Intangible Products: The Role of Space in the Creative Digital Economy, Tech City, London
Event: University College London
Language: English
Keywords: urban design, creative industries, creative city, space, place, london, silicon roundabout, tech city, digital economy
UCL classification: UCL > School of BEAMS
UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School > Bartlett School of Planning
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1476654
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