Creativity, Communities and Public Spaces of European and Russian Cities

This research area involves comparative explorations of European and Russian cities as sites of interplay between various actors and their groupings. In the focus of studies are the mechanisms and conditions under which communities within city landscapes emerge, develop and generate culture. To achieve this goal a wide range of inter-disciplinary research fields, including social, cultural, urban, organisational and cognitive studies are brought together using network, systems, social space and constructivist theoretical frameworks and methodologies. 

Considering the particular economic, political and cultural contexts of European and Russian cities we account for ideological orientations, cultural and professional backgrounds, stylistic preferences of individual actors and communities influencing their (inter)actions in city spaces, as well as meanings they generate and places they make. 

This research area is additionally empowered by collaboration with the Council of Young Scientists of the Faculty of Sociology at St. Petersburg State University, as well as with individual researchers from NRU ITMO, Institute of Sociology – RAS, European University at Petersburg, and NRU Higher School of Economics. 

Intertwined with the area "Network Structures in Germany, Europe and Russia", research work in this area is mainly concentrated in the project "Co-evolution of Knowledge and Communication Networks: Structural Dynamics of Creative Collectives in European Cultural Capitals" (2014-2017). It is supplemented with events focused on topics of the research area, presentations worldwide, as well as other outreach activities.

In 2015 Arts for the City project emerged as a spin-off from this research area. The aim of this project combining scientific, educational and artistic elements is to build a dialogue between European creative communities and researchers who charge creativity in their cities, and Russian experts, researchers, creatives, students and citizens.

In 2016, ARTS4CITY conducted projects in 5 main areas: (a) activating neighbourhoods, (b) animating non-places, (c) activating central city locations, (d) redesigning public spaces, and (e) educational and public events.  Totally, in 2016 project team organised 11 international events involving citizens, creative professionals and scholars from Germany, Finland, Denmark, Spain, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Estonia, and Russia.

Since 2015, over 3000 people took part in ARTS4CITY project events,  forming a large community of people who follow social media pages of the project and participate in its events. At the core of the project is a multidisciplinary team comprised of junior sociologists, cultural managers, and designers.

The project “Educational practices of Russian and Russian-mixed families in Spain: The role of parents’ values and beliefs and/or structural constraints” (2015-2016) conducted by Raisa Akifyeva (National Research University ‘Higher School of Economics’) studies the child-rearing strategies of Russian-speaking women who live in Madrid, Spain, by focusing on their children`s participation in structured activities. Analysis examined class distinctions of the child-rearing strategies of migrant women and concluded that class differences in the structured activities of children are largely determined by structural factors rather than the cultural logic of parents. The findings were published as a CGES working paper.

The project “Cross-gender Roleplaying: Gender Attitudes in Russian and European Live-Action Role-Playing Games” (2015-2017) conducted by Olga Vorobyeva (European University at St. Petersburg) focuses on LARPs (live-action role-playing games), a kind of improvisational interactive performance where participants act through fictional characters in a fictional game world, but no professional acting skills are required from participants  and no separate audience is targeted. The study focuses on the relation between player’s and character’s gender. Empirical data collected in Russia and Europe highlighted that different communities have diverse attitudes and practices concerning cross-gender play. The comparative analysis of implicit gender attitudes will be published as a CGES working paper.