Friday 6 July 2018

#ICEL2018 Capital meets capabilities: negotiating cultural exclusion in participatory culture

Written for researchers into participatory culture that are interested in using a theoretical framework for analysing gaps in participatory culture/the participation divide.

Professor Marion Walton (UCT), Professor Johannes Cronjé (CPUT) and I prepared the paper 'Capital meets capabilities: negotiating cultural exclusion in participatory culture'. Johannes kindly presented it on the 6th of July as part of the International Conference of E-Learning 2018's proceedings.

Our paper proposed a ‘Capital meets Capabilities’ framework that combines Sen’s capability approach with Bourdieusian cultural sociology to situate students’ contrasting circumstances and repertoires. This framework describes how people make strategic use of their capital for developing a range of cultural and leisure repertoires.

The visual arts e-portfolio curation that my PhD (2018) focused on is an example of participatory culture in which people’s designs can be strongly influenced by digital divides and other gaps. The gaps in participatory culture (or 'the participation divide') have not been conceptualised within a theoretical framework.

A Capital meets Capabilities framework for the creative appropriation of e-portfolios (Noakes, 2018)

To test whether a Capital meets Capabilities framework might be appropriate, we present a case study for “Masibulele”. He worked around scarcity in his parents’ household in the Khayelitsha township of Cape Town to became a fashion entrepreneur while studying at a high school. Despite having limited internet access, he taught himself to design fashion and shared this business via social networks. In curating an e-portfolio for the visual arts subject, he eventually included his fashion creations alongside those repertoires he was taught in arts class.

The Capital meets Capabilities framework addressed the opportunities that Masibulele leveraged as an aspirant designer and fashion entrepreneur. The framework identified known gaps in participatory culture and suggested new ones related to cultural exclusion: Masibulele had to negotiate dominant cultural repertoires and taste regimes from a marginalized position. Unlike well-resourced emergent fashion designers, he was also heavily constrained. For example, he did not use his intermittent mobile-centric internet access to set up a presence on the most popular platforms for promoting fashion designs.We trust that Masibulele's example is instructive for researchers focused on participatory culture. We hope that they will use a Capital meets Capabilities framework for achieving holistic portrayals of all the gaps in participatory culture.

Please let us know what you think of the framework by adding your comment below, ta.

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