Co-evolution of Knowledge and Communication Networks: Structural Dynamics of Creative Collectives in European Cultural Capitals (2014-2017)

keywords: network, knowledge, communication, co-evolution, structural dynamics, creative collective, material context, city space, European cultural capital

The project addresses one of the major fundamental issues faced by contemporary social sciences – identifying the internal mechanisms of social dynamics operating in groups, collectives and communities. In order to identify such mechanisms, it is necessary to understand how the dynamic transformations of horizontal network structures of interactions between people are related to transformations of their knowledge structures that define how the individuals understand themselves, society and the world. It is also important to identify the impact of material contexts on the dynamics of knowledge and communication networks.

Focus of the project: dynamic co-evolution of knowledge and communication networks of creative collectives localized in certain material environment.

The project develops a theoretical and methodological framework constituted by network theory and methodology, supplemented by social constructivism and evolutionary approach (autopoiesis theory), and combined with the elements of the socio-spatial analysis.

The method used is mixed qualitative and quantitative network analysis allowing to model and map heterogeneous spatially embedded configurations of knowledge and communication structures using formal techniques, modeling and tracking co-dependent qualitative and quantitative changes in multi-mode multi-level structures of relations between concepts, individuals and objects.

The empirical study is based on the cases of creative collectives operating in the heterogeneous contexts of large European cities: St. Petersburg, Barcelona, Madrid, Hamburg, Toulouse and London. Creative collectives represent an optimal object to study knowledge and communication co-evolution in material context for several reasons. First, they join creative professionals who perform creative activities resulting in rapid change of knowledge structures and intense interpersonal communication. Second, activity of creative professionals takes place in shared spaces stimulating emotionally saturated interaction between them and ensuring dynamism of joint influences between knowledge and communication. Third, orientation of creative collectives towards creation and promotion of creative works and generating new pictures of the world together with the publics leads their members to communicate more openly. Fourth, creative individuals continuously create, use and present material objects and places in course of their creative process, as well as actively reflect upon the role of the former in their activities and constantly refer to them throughout communication.

Empirical study of knowledge and communication structures coevolution in creative collectives will be based on network analysis techniques combined with qualitative and quantitative field data collection tools. For example, communication networks and links to material context will be mapped with surveys and ethnographies, in particular, with audio and video registration of communication within collectives. Knowledge structures will be mapped using software for semi-automatized word collocation analysis and semantic networks construction (Automap and ConText) based on transcripts of the interviews with the creatives, their dielogues, as well as their texts (literature artworks, publications in media, posts in blogs, social media, etc.). Structures of relations between concepts, individuals and objects will be mapped, visualized and comparatively analyzed using qualitative network analysis as well as quantititive. Longitudinal data collection in two years period will give an opportunity to analyze structural dynamics of the collectives, including dynamic network modelling (ERGM and/or SAOM).




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