Club Cultures: Boundaries, Identities and Otherness

By Silvia Rief | Go to book overview

3 Club Cultural Production and the
Night-Time Economy Market in
the UK

Recent studies of cultural, symbolic or entertainment economies in cities (e.g. Zukin 1996, Hannigan 1998, Scott 2000) have paid little attention to the role of club and dance cultures in the night-time entertainment economy. Research on nightclubbing and dance cultures throughout the 1990s mainly focused on the consumption of clubbing until Paul Chatterton and Robert Hollands, in a series of publications and research reports on several UK cities (Bristol, Leeds, Newcastle), began to draw attention to the supply structure of night-life culture. They put forward the argument that the ‘new’ urban entertainment and night-life economy in 1990s Britain was increasingly dominated by large, partly multinational, corporations aided by entrepreneurial city councils in need of local investment. Further, they pointed out that ownership and control tended to become concentrated in publicly quoted companies, for which branding was imperative to increase shareholder value and the trust of potential investors. The rising significance of branding, standardization of urban centres, and market segmentation would entail a socially segregated night life mainly oriented towards cash-rich consumers, whilst displacing older or alternative modes of nightlife culture and forcing small and local entrepreneurs out of the market (Hollands and Chatterton 2003, Chatterton 2002). Such arguments are reverberated by similar claims about the capitalist incorporation of countercultural forms and social movements through the cultural and entertainment economies capitalizing on the synergies between leisure, retail and night life (Scott 2000: 209–210, Talbot 2007: 7, Hannigan 1998). As far as the production of dance and night-life culture has become a focus of attention, it was strongly seen in the context of gentrification, corporatization and social fragmentation in the wake of the economic restructuring of cities and urban space. Political economy approaches tend to subsume the cultural under the economic, assuming that the profit and growth motive of (global) corporate investors eradicates (local) cultural styles and creativity. Tied into narratives of loss of a ‘golden age’, such arguments fail to acknowledge that gentrification and regeneration are more contested processes requiring a more nuanced understanding of the social relations, the particular practices, the meanings, identities and local differences through

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