Social Networks and Networked Institutions in Contemporary Glassmaking Careers: A case study of University of Sunderland and National Glass Centre

Lauren England

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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    This paper aims to explore how professional social networks form in the contemporary glass sector, and the role they play in the career development of contemporary artists and craftspeople. Using a case study of the University of Sunderland Glass and Ceramics Department this paper analyses the ways in which social networks are developed, nurtured, maintained and expanded within the context of contemporary glassmaking and also to assess their significance as career facilitators. It is the view of the researcher that the lack of existing academic knowledge on this aspect of the craft sector and glassmaking, has limited our understanding of the field. Therefore, in addition to analysing the strengths and limitations of social networks in contemporary glass communities, this paper also aims to evaluate the applicability of academic theories to the area. Predominant theories that are explored are weak tie theory (Granovetter, 1973), social capital (Bourdieu, 1986) and the career facilitating nature of networks within creative and entrepreneurial careers (Potts et al., 2008; Zimmer, 1986; Brown, 2013). As a previous student in Glass & Ceramics at the University of Sunderland, this study was drawn from the researcher's interest in the highly social nature of glassmaking communities, and a desire to develop new educational practices that prepare crafts students for a career outside of education. The findings of this paper highlight the role of networks in the careers of established and emerging artists and the perceived professional competency of students in the Glass Department at Sunderland University. Furthermore, the study identifies key non-human actors and sites of activity (Crossley et al., 2015) within contemporary glassmaking communities both throughout the UK and internationally.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationMaking Futures
    Subtitle of host publicationcraft and the (re)turn of the maker in a post-global sustainably aware society
    PublisherPlymouth College of Art
    Number of pages9
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    EventMaking Futures IV: the (re)turn of the maker - Mount Edgcumbe House, Plymouth, United Kingdom
    Duration: 24 Sept 201525 Sept 2015
    Conference number: 4


    ConferenceMaking Futures IV
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    Internet address


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