Kennispunt Mecenaatstudies


Bridging the urban-digital divide: Crowdfunding as an online middleground space

The paper attempts to provide a critique of the premise of territoriality in creative cities. A validated hypothesis in the literature on economic geography is that the density and “territoriality” of members of the so-called “creative class” influence the volume of creative goods and services produced in cities. This hypothesis gave rise to several sub-related themes, such as the premise that cities are, par excellence, a place where middleground spaces emerge because of place-based activities located in close-knit communities imbued with creativity and innovation commons. In line with this argument, recent studies have yielded an analytic framework to explain the dissemination of creativity through the so-called “middleground” spaces in cities: places, spaces, projects, and events. This framework presupposes the dissemination of creativity from the physical place to a cognitively constructed space. We revise this argument by suggesting that post-digitalized forms of creation and dissemination of knowledge often blur the boundaries between place and space (which we characterize in this paper as domains of “the local” and “the digital”). By mediating creativity through digital platforms, agents are also capable of outreaching different localities and creating ties that are not subsumed to close-knit communities. As such, our framework incorporates a “digital middleground” space into this existing “middleground” framework, thereby extending the scope of creativity in cities to digitally dispersed forms of exchange. We theorize that contemporary forms of creativity unfold openly, virtually, and non-hierarchically yet are imbued by local concerns such as the ones channeled by crowdfunding communities, which we use as an example in our discussions. Our paper contributes to a better understanding of the increasingly digitalized “urban” spaces and the impossibility of pursuing a dichotomous digital-local divide. We expect that scholars will consider the possibility for creativity to manifest not only in territorial-based middlegrounds, but also in online communities where creativity unfolds dispersedly.

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