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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Centre for British Studies | Research | Projects | Commerce and Culture - The British Experience

Commerce and Culture - The British Experience


 

Prof Christiane Eisenberg

 

Culture and Commerce includes broad issues that encourage scholars from various disciplines - economics, sociology, political science, history, anthropology, literature - to take part and to contribute new ideas and methods. Several scholars carried out research projects in this subject during the last few years. They placed a special emphasis on the cultural industries which developed much earlier in Britain than in other European countries and are today among the fastest growing parts of the economy. Research focuses on the one hand on the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries, since Britain was a fully developed commercial society even in pre-industrial times and this commercial tradition has shaped industrial society up to the present day. On the other hand, the projects also examine the present tendencies of internationalisation and globalisation. An underlying question is whether the early rise of a commercial society is an asset or a burden as regards successful development in the long run.

 

The reciprocal relationship between culture and commerce has two dimensions:

  • Firstly, culture is a basis and precondition of commercial relations. This dimension focuses on institutions such as the state and common law, cultural styles (e.g. the notions of 'fairness' and 'reciprocity') or, more generally, norms and social trust. Advertising, for example, can be analysed as a means making market exchanges meaningful.
  • Secondly, commerce can be seen as a social force that can influence culture. Examples of this relationship are the market as a socialising force (i.e. as a force that fosters communication as well as conflicts); and the market as a cultural force (i.e. the news and media markets); the market as a rule-making power or a destructive force (such as the weakening of Common Law through European Community Law).

 

For Britain the analysis of these connections is especially interesting for two periods:

On the one hand, we observe the process of modernisation in Britain and the so-called "peculiarities of the British" (or "of the English") from the following perspective: While recent historical research is no longer fascinated by Britain as the pioneer of industrialization, it is now discussed that - in contrast to other European countries - Britain was already a fully developed commercial society in pre-industrial times and that this commercial tradition has shaped industrial society in Britain up to the present day. Therefore, the Centre would like to focus its research on the consequences of this specific British peculiarity for certain areas of culture. It will also analyse the extent to which alternative influences on culture - for example concrete state regulation mechanisms - have thus either been weakened or had no effect at all.

In addition, we examine the relationship of culture and commerce with regard to the present tendencies towards internationalisation and globalisation. In this respect, the question arises as to whether this long commercial tradition can be regarded as an asset or a burden on successful development. The long tradition of commercialisation in Britain seems to have been a mixed blessing. There is no doubt that it fostered communication with international partners. But has it not also led to a 'consumption' of the non-commercial virtues and values that would be necessary for further success?
 

The following publications by members and former members of the Centre for British Studies are related to the Commerce and Culture project:

  • Eisenberg, Christiane / Gestrich, Andreas (Hg.), Cultural Industries in Britain and Germany. Sport, Music and Enter-tainment from the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Century (Schriftenreihe des Arbeitskreises Deutsche Englandforschung, Bd. 65), Augsburg (Wißner-Verlag) 2012. (Publication at wissner.com)
  • Eisenberg, Christiane / Andreas Gestrich, Cultural Industries as a Field of Historical Research: Approaches, Analytical Dimensions, Long-Term Perspectives, in: Christiane Eisenberg/Andreas Gestrich (eds), Cultural Industries in Britain and Germany. Sport, Music and Entertainment from the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Century, Augsburg 2012, 3-22.
  • Eisenberg, Christiane, Soziologie, Ökonomie und "Cultural Economics" in der Sportgeschichte. Plädoyer für eine Neuorientierung, in: Sport und Gesellschaft / Sport and Society 1/1, 2004, S. 73-83.
  • Eisenberg, Christiane, Rita Gerlach and Christian Handke (eds.), Cultural Industries: The British Experience in International Perspective. Online. Humboldt University Berlin, 2006. Edoc-Server: Link http://edoc.hu-berlin.de/conferences/culturalindustries/. Print on Demand: ISBN 978-3-86004-203-8.
  • Eisenberg, Christiane, Zum Spannungsverhältnis von kommerzieller Massenkultur und Arbeiterkultur. England aus deutscher Perspektive, in: Hartmut Kaelble/Martin Kirsch (Hg.), Selbstverständnis und Gesellschaft der Europäer. Aspekte der sozialen und kulturellen Europäisierung im späten 19. und 20. Jahrhundert, Frankfurt/M. 2007, S. 299-318.
  • Eisenberg, Christiane, Rita Gerlach and Christian Handke, Introduction, in: Christiane Eisenberg, Christian Handke, Rita Gerlach (Hg.), Cultural Industries: The British Experience in International Perspective. Online. Humboldt University Berlin, 2006. Edoc-Server:
  • http://edoc.hu-berlin.de/conferences/culturalindustries/. Print on Demand: ISBN 978-3-86004-203-8.
  • Gerlach, Rita, What is Theatre Quality?, in: Christiane Eisenberg, Rita Gerlach and Christian Handke, Introduction, in: Christiane Eisenberg, Christian Handke, Rita Gerlach (Hg.), Cultural Industries: The British Experience in International Perspective. Online. Humboldt University Berlin, 2006. Edoc-Server:
  • http://edoc.hu-berlin.de/conferences/culturalindustries/. Print on Demand: ISBN 978-3-86004-203-8.
  • Gerlach-March, Rita, "Gutes" Theater: Theaterfinanzierung und Theaterangebot in Großbritannien und Deutschland im Vergleich, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften 2011 (also: PhD Thesis, Humboldt University, Berlin, 2008).
  • Handke, Christian, The Creative Destruction of Copyright – Innovation in the Record Industry and Digital Copying, doctoral dissertation (with distinction), Erasmus University, 2010. Online: ssrn.com/abstract=1630343.
  • Handke, Christian, Bericht zum MIDEMNET Forum / MIDEM 2007 für das Music Information Center Austria (mica) und das EU-Projekt DMET - Digital Music Education and Training; submitted 26 March 2007.
  • Handke, Christian (with Ruth Towse), Economics of Copyright Collecting Societies, report commissioned by the Spanish authors' collecting society Sociedad General de Autores y Editores (SGAE), 2006.
  • Handke, Christian, "Kleine Firmen - Große Erwartungen. Die Situation kleiner Tonträgerunternehmen in Berlin", in: Projekt Zukunft (Senatsverwaltung für Wirtschaft, Arbeit und Frauen), Berlin: Klingt gut, Sept. 2006, pp. 12-13.
  • Handke, Christian (with Peter James), "Ein starker Partner der heimischen Kreativen: Die Independents", in: Kultur & Politik, Nr.06/05, Nov. and Dec. 2005, p.28.
  • Handke, Christian, "Measuring Innovation in Media Industries", RECIDA Working Paper No. 11, November 2005.
  • Handke, Christian,  "Bad for Universal - but Universally Bad? The Uneven Effects of the Current Crisis in the German Phonogram Industry", RECIDA Working Paper no.9, 2005.
  • Handke, Christian, "Defining Creative Industries by Comparing the Creation of Novelty", published in the reader of the Workshop Creative Industries - A measure for urban development?, WIWIPOL and FOKUS, Vienna, March 20, 2004, pp. 64-81; also RECIDA Working Paper no.2, 2004.
  • Handke, Christian, "Plain Destruction or Creative Destruction? Copyright Erosion and the Evolution of the Record Industry", in: Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues 3(2), 2006, pp. 29-51.
  • Stedman, Gesa, "From Gentlemanly Publishing to Conglomerates: The Contemporary Literary Field in the UK”, in: Christiane Eisenberg, Rita Gerlach and Christian Handke (eds.), Cultural Industries: The British Experience in International Perspective. Online. Humboldt University Berlin, 2006. Edoc-Server: Link http://edoc.hu-berlin.de/conferences/culturalindustries/. Print on Demand: ISBN 978-3-86004-203-8.
  • Stedman, Gesa, "Orange is not the only prize? Autorinnen im literarischen Feld in Großbritannien", in: Hard Times 73 (2001), 29-33.