David Jarman, Edinburgh Napier University
The Strength of Festival Ties: a social network analysis of the 2014 Edinburgh International Science Festival, and proposed ego network research in Edinburgh and Leith.
Policy makers around the world proclaim their desire for an 'eventful' economy that will benefit their cities and communities (Richards 2010; Festivals Edinburgh 2012). An apparent corollary of this progress is the opening up of career opportunities for those with an interest in the production, administration and mediation of these experiences, many of whom now possess academic qualifications in related fields (Getz 2012). The forces shaping career opportunities in such economies are subject to multiple influences and it is argued in this presentation that they can be illustrated and perhaps better understood through social network analysis (SNA) methods. For the festival and event employee this could highlight the importance of social networks and that sometimes it is who you know (and their attributes) that counts. Meanwhile festival organisations might better recognise and perhaps value the multiple ties and connections that exist between their employees, and with those working elsewhere in the eventful economy.
Festival and event stakeholder analysis, in turn, has tended to focus on an abstracted and simplified approach that addresses these relationships by categorising organisations and people (Getz et al 2007). Detail is lost as individuals are subsumed into broader groups: suppliers, venues, audience members, host communities and so on. More recent work has prioritised 'the locality' as being the moral centre to an event's stakeholder relationships (Bostok 2014). However, SNA remains an underutilised approach that can offer complementary methods to understanding this fundamental element of management, in a dynamic and networked industry. Through these lenses the means by which resources, ideas and opportunities flow through the festival economy can be mapped, potentially identifying the people most central to the network and those who exist on its periphery (Scott 2013).
This paper will present data gathered through the Edinburgh International Science Festival (EISF) as they produce the 2014 event, recruiting new staff and welcoming back previous employees, to join the permanent workforce. The research will examine the data to show the relationships between the EISF staff, as well as their connections to Edinburgh’s broader festival and events community. The flow of information into and through the central organisation will be considered, likewise the impacts of a festival period itself on this web of strong and weak ties. These and other findings will be of interest to festival managers, staff building careers in the sector and researchers interested in a form of research that has thus far seen limited application in the events field.
Beyond this EISF research, the presenter will build on recent publications (Jarman et al 2014; Jarman 2016) to consider future plans for ego network research. With a focus on two people who are recognised as having prominence in the festival, event and creative communities of Edinburgh and Leith, the proposed research has the potential to again complement existing work in the event studies field. It is therefore timely that recent publications have contributed to the growing popularity and accessibility of ego network research (Prell 2012; Crossley et al 2015; Richards 2015).