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Geography and Environmental Science
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Dr Brian J Hracs PhD, MA, BA

Associate Professor in Human Geography

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Dr Brian J Hracs is an Associate Professor in Human Geography within Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Southampton.

Dr. Brian J. Hracs is an Associate Professor in Human Geography. He joined Geography and Environmental Science in September 2014. He is originally from Toronto and received his PhD in Geography from the University of Toronto. Prior to coming to Southampton he worked as a research fellow at the Department of Social and Economic Geography at Uppsala University in Sweden. He is interested in the iterative relationship between markets, technology and space. In particular, he focuses on key questions in economic geography related to entrepreneurship in the creative economy, the mobility of ‘talent', the relationships between physical and virtual spaces, intermediation and the mechanisms through which distinction and value(s) are created and communicated.


2003 - BA (Geography & Political Science) Brock University, Canada
2005 - MA (Geography) York University, Canada
2010 - PhD (Geography) University of Toronto, Canada


2010-2011 Research Fellow, Martin Prosperity Institute, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, Canada
2011-2014 Research Fellow, Department of Social and Economic Geography, Uppsala University, Sweden
2014- Present Lecturer in Human Geography, Geography and Environmental Science, University of Southampton

Research interests

As an economic geographer I am interested in the iterative relationship between markets, technology and space. My earlier research explored the impact of digital technology on the employment experiences and spatial dynamics of independent musicians in Toronto. This work demonstrated that tasks associated with independent music production are performed in a growing range of physical and virtual spaces and that this fragmentation individualizes musicians and intensifies employment risk. These findings nuance our understanding of creative labour, entrepreneurship and governmentality. The project also explored intra and inter-regional migration and the important specificities of place, labour markets and individual preferences. This focus revealed that some musicians are avoiding competition by relocating to Toronto's surrounding suburbs or other music scenes in Canada. It also demonstrated that some independent musicians are abandoning their ‘bohemian' identities for professional personas and strategic practices. For example, in response to competition and exclusionary networks, there is an apparent shift from ‘social' to ‘connectivity' networking which entails ‘getting help' online instead of  ‘hanging out' in bars and cafes.

More recently, I have developed several new projects which complement and extend these themes. In one comparative study, for example, I examined how independent musicians and fashion designers in New York, Berlin, Stockholm and Toronto market and monetize their products and ‘stand out' in the saturated marketplace using the concept of ‘exclusivity'. While this project focussed on the experience of producers, I have also been considering how consumers find, evaluate and ultimately choose specific products from a growing range of ubiquitous alternatives. I am particularly interested in the actors (people, spaces, institutions, events, algorithms etc.) who help to make these choices, the interactions between these ‘curators' and consumers and the physical and virtual spaces where advice is created and distributed. Given the presence of iTunes and Amazon, this research also endeavours to tease out why consumers of digitized cultural products, such as music and books, are willing to pay a premium, in both time and money, to patronize bricks and mortar shops. Through interviews and observation it also seeks to identify the sources of value that make localized sites of curation and cultural consumption, such as record shops, attractive and resilient in an age of digital distribution and on-demand consumption.

In the next few years I plan to build on this research by conducting an original cross-industry comparison of music and publishing in London. This project will investigate whether publishing is repeating music's painful digital transition. In so doing it will consider whether actors within publishing are not only learning from the experiences of their music industry counterparts but benefiting from the innovative structures and strategies it pioneered during the ‘MP3 Crisis.'

Research group

Economy, Society and Governance

Research project(s)

Intermediation, place and value creation: Exploring the processes and spaces of ‘curation’

Employability Officer

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Book Chapters



  • Massam, B. H., Hracs, B. J., & Espinoza, R. (2012). Lived experiences. Toronto, CA: Martin Prosperity Institute.

Working Papers


GEOG 3063 The Creative Economy (Convener)

GEOG 1004 A Global World

GEOG 1010 Geographical, Quantitative, and Field Skills

GEOG 3018 Geography Research Project

GEOG 2008 Researching Human Geography

Areas of supervision:

General areas: economic geography, creative economy, urban geography qualitative methods.

Specific topics: music, fashion, digital technologies, creativity and knowledge, creating distinction and value, consumption, intermediation/curation, entrepreneurship, labour, aesthetic labour, networking practices, locational choice.

Prospective students with ideas for PhD projects in any of my research areas should feel encouraged to contact me for an informal chat.

Dr Brian J Hracs
Building 44 University of Southampton University Road Southampton SO17 1BJ

Room Number: 44/Level 2

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