The Media Cluster Brussels (MCB) team travelled to Angers in early June to present their on-going research on media clusters in an international seminar on cultural and creative quarters and clusters.
The seminar, hosted by the Université d’Angers and the Valeur(s) project gathered around 50 researchers and scholars from all over the world to share their research, their work and their thoughts on the topic. Presentations focused on descriptions of cultural quarters and clusters, and existing literature. The consensus was that there is no common approach to cluster research yet.
Building on this, the MCB presentation tried to present a new approach towards media clusters, by introducing the 4Ps concept. Our approach was based on three entities (Media companies, Media workers and Media communities) and on four identities (Proximity, Pertinence, Position (or composition) and Path-dependency).
We came to this new approach as we noticed, during our research, that the cluster phenomenon is an important topic and that many frameworks and approaches have been developed to analyse them. But we have found that there is no common agreement nowadays on how to analyse and frame media clusters. A framework to analyse media clusters needs to cope with the identity and the dynamics of the cluster, and the developed approaches so far seem to have troubles in sufficiently grasping the differences and similarities. Plus, we observed that even though the importance of the people within the cluster and their social interactions has been recognized, the concept has not been yet integrated into frameworks. All this shows a clear need for a novel framework uniting heterogeneous approaches and this is why, in order to try to tackle this issue, we proposed during the seminar this 4P framework.
Our presentation led to a vivid discussion among the attendees. If questions were raised about the pertinence of the 4Ps concept (why Ps? How did you come with those categories? Isn’t this all a bit random?), the idea to challenge the existing theories and the fact that we tried to bring a new concept were much welcomed.
These interesting debates which continued in the evening and the day after helped us to understand how we could explain this approach in a more integrated way, and perhaps without being so affirmative. And on the second day of the conference we were very pleased to see that Gilson Schwarz, a professor from Sao Paulo, Brazil, changed his keynote speech presentation to include our 4Ps theory, to which he added 3Ps (Policy, Performability and Pictoriality). We took it as an encouragement and as a sign that we were going in the right direction.
To paraphrase the Beatles, we decided to « give Ps a chance! »