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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

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

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By linking producers and consumers, intermediaries such as brokers and gatekeepers have always been important market actors. Yet, the processes and spatial dynamics of intermediation are evolving in the face of globalization and digitalization.

In saturated markets where consumers are overwhelmed by product information and choice, a growing range of specialized intermediaries called curators help to evaluate subjective product qualities and ascribe value to specific products. Curation is vital to contemporary markets but its specific mechanisms, actors and spaces remain poorly understood. This three-year project, funded by the Swedish Research Council, aims to nuance our understanding through rigorous empirical analysis of 3 Swedish industries: art, music and hi-fi equipment. It addresses four interrelated questions: What is curation and what forms does it take? What actors perform curation? Where does curation occur and what is the relationship between space and curation? How are value(s) created and communicated through curation? The research includes a statistical analysis and in-depth interviews with intermediaries and key informants in each of these industries. Ethnographic and ‘netnographic’ observations of key spaces of curation including retail shops, art galleries, consumer fairs, blogs and online forums are also being conducted. The project aims to contribute to a growing area of cutting-edge theory that emphasizes the complex socio-economic geographies of how value is created in the globalized economy.

Related research groups

Economy, Society and Governance
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