Congratulations to Jiun-Yi Wu who has been awarded his PhD today, subject to some corrections. Jiun-Yi was supervised by Prof Andy Pratt and Dr Jenny Mbaye, and his external examiner was Dr Tarek Virani from UWE, and Dr Diana Yeh was the internal examiner. Both were complementary about the thesis and its innovative focus on the cultural aspects of clustering and co-location, and developing insights into the indigenous movements in Taiwan and the potential impact on policy making and the wider understanding of the creative economy.
The title and abstract follow:
The Social and Cultural Embedding of Cultural andCreative Clusters: Three Case Studies of Taiwan with Indigenous, Community and Urban Dimensions
This thesis examines the notion of clusters as applied in cultural and creative sectors. Specifically, this thesis explores social and cultural (as opposed to the more common economic) dimensions of clustering and argues that these two factors form a locality-specific context which enables diverse development of cultural and creative clusters in varied settings, namely urban and rural. This thesis applies a qualitative methodology to conduct research with the primary research method of interviews. The participants of this research are individual cultural and creative workers who were grantees of a funding project aiming to promote development of cultural and creative clusters of Taiwan implemented by the Ministry of Taiwan.
By contrast with most previous studies, this thesis demonstrates the pivotal role of culture in the formation of a cultural and creative cluster. Culture represents indigenous cultural embedding and creating an identityfor indigenous cultural and creative workers, as well as personal preferences for the specific culture of a localityfor other participants of this research.This thesis reveals an embedded nature of cultural and creative practices(in particular,craft activities). Professionalidentity is also imperative when it comes to cluster formation. Since cultural and creative sectors are deemed as volatile and precarious, mutual professional identity is vital for cultural and creative workers to acquire and maintain an affective connection,whichenables further traded and untradedinteractions.These two major factorsexplain the formationof communities of practice,in particular,cultural and creative sectors(in this case,crafts).
With the investigation of three cultural and creative clusters in Taiwan, this thesis aims toset up a discussion of how local contexts can contribute to the varied developmentof clusters. Thus, this thesis reveals and highlights the differencesof rural clusters while mainstream research studies often focus on urban settings. Overall, this thesis argues that non-economic dimensions of clustering have been overlooked by mainstream research. Local social and cultural aspects of clustering do not simply provide an alternative perspective, but a more thorough understanding of the types of cultural and creative clusters, such as craft-based clusters.