Accepted paper:

Startup ecosystems: socio-economic milieus of imagination and creativity..


Richard Pfeilstetter (University of Seville)

Paper short abstract:

This contribution discusses contemporary institutionalizations of ‘imagination’ and ‘innovation’, where new ideas, risk taking and creativity are part of an explicit moral imperative or lifestyle and a marketable resource of the individual.

Paper long abstract:

Creativity and innovation were seen as the distinguishing feature of socio-economic organization in the 20th century dichotomy between modern market societies and traditional-static communities. The economist Schumpeter defined the entrepreneur, who introduces novel, innovative forms and combinations of ideas, as the constitutive agency of capitalism. "Creative destruction", a term derived from Marx he has coined, was seen as the core momentum of economic innovation. Today, a growing number of young people in global cities create intimate social relations based on a shared desire for starting a ground-breaking, revolutionary (tech) business at the forefront of 'innovation' that eventually would change the world. These 'startup communities' and 'digital nomads' are socio-spatially brought to life in 'creative quarters'. I will discuss my ethnographic research in such a quarter in Manchester (UK), where I attended network meetings and tech events taking place at premises especially fashioned as 'creative', such as co-workspaces, incubators, accelerators or 'coffices'. My main argument is that this are contemporary institutionalizations of imagination and innovation, where thinking different, risk taking and creativity are part of an explicit moral imperative or lifestyle as well as a marketable resource of the individual. Is the 'creative industry' a collective contemporary utopia or the outcome of new, agency-driven 'imaginative horizons' in global cities?

panel P30
Creative horizons: steps towards an ethnography of imagination