Artificial Intelligence

“Stars” and Economic Development: An Empirical Social Network Analysis of Human Capital Mobility in the Cultural Industries

Friday, May 27, 2011, 10:30am - 12:00pm PSTiCal
ISI, 11th Floor Large Conference Room
Elizabeth Currid-Halkett

Many scholars have studied the role of human capital and its social networks to understand uneven economic development. To date, however, no one has used a technique that has directly connected individuals across space and empirically follows the social networks of human capital across major economic hubs. We use a unique dataset, Getty Images photographs, and undertake social network analysis (SNA). We collected caption information on over 600,000 photographs, 754 individuals, 12,777 industry social events and 187 locations. We analyzed this photographic data to study whether empirical social connections could tell us something meaningful about human capital mobility and its impact on the places in which it locates. Our results reaffirm preexisting knowledge of cultural hubs but we go farther by articulating the connectivity between these places. Our analysis offers empirical affirmation of cultural hub connectivity and the social relations and human capital that may partially explain their competitive advantage.

Elizabeth Currid is assistant professor at University of Southern California’s School of Policy. She is the author of The Warhol Economy: How Fashion, Art and Music Drive New York City (Princeton University Press 2007) and Starstruck: The Business of Celebrity (Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010). Her research focuses on the role of creative industries in economic development. Most recently her work has been the study of Getty Images media photographs to study the clustering of cultural and entertainment events. Currid-Halkett is currently collaborating on a project tracking the location of Manhattan art galleries (1970-2004) and their impact on neighborhood economic development.Currid-Halkett’s work has been covered in The New York Times, the Economist, the Times Literary Supplement, the New York Times magazine, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times, NPR, among others. She received her PhD in urban planning from Columbia University.

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