By Dr JT Velikovsky

(15th Dec 2012; updated June 2015, March 2016, Dec 2016, March 2017, July 2017) 

My PhD thesis is a free PDF, online here: StoryAlity #135PhD Dissertation Addendum (2016). Below is an adapted excerpt on: Creative Practice Theory.

CPT General Model Diagram (Velikovsky 2012)

Figure 1 – Creative Practice Theory – General Model – Animated Diagram (Velikovsky 2012)

Creative Practice Theory – is a synthesis of certain key concepts from sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s `practice theory’ (1977, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1993) and also certain key concepts from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s systems model of creativity (1988, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2006, 2014).

This synthesis and model was created by JT Velikovsky (2012, updated June 2015, March 2016, Dec 2016).

It is perhaps useful to first see this post on creativity.

It is also worth examining the article: Runco, M. A., & Jaeger, G. J. (2012). The Standard Definition of Creativity. Creativity Research Journal, 24(1), 92-96, as that is the definition of creativity assumed herein.

To study Creativity, it is also useful to examine:

The Creative (1) Person, and their creative (2) Potential

(2) their creative Process(es),

(3) their creative Products (e.g.: their: successful creative artifacts – eg film/s, or novel/s, or song/s, etc)., (4) their

(4) their Place (eg country, community, culture/s, etc) and

(5) and creative Persuasion (i.e. How – and when – did the Field [i.e. the audience for that domain in bioculture] come to view their work [their creative artifact, such as, a specific movie or song, etc] as `creative’, [or `novel and useful’], by consensus?

The main reason that I suggest (comparatively) examining `the six P’s’ of creativity (i.e., the creative person, their potential, process, product, place, and persuasion) is that, this article below, suggests those are “the six p’s” in the scientific study of creativity. (There may well be more factors, but those six appear quite useful, and illuminating.)

Kozbelt, A, Beghetto, RA & Runco, MA 2010, ‘Theories of Creativity’, in JC Kaufman & RJ Sternberg (eds), The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 20-47. (see p. 21 for “the five P’s”). Or 6 if you include their creative potential.

Also, this research aims to be consilient. (See this post and also this post, for more on consilience.)

`Creative’ (or, artifacts that are regarded as canonical) can mean: critically successful – and/or commercially successful. (These two forms of creativity, as judged by the Field – i.e. by (1) Critics, and (2) Mass Audiences – rarely coincide.) It is noted that `critical’ and `commercial’ are merely two forms of canon in a cultural domain, and, rarely do they overlap in the domain of movies, as is also noted in:

Simonton, D. K. (2011). Great Flicks: Scientific Studies of Cinematic Creativity and Aesthetics. New York; Oxford: Oxford University Press.

When we study these 5 P’s of creativity, with regard to the Top 20 Return on Investment movies (for example), and we look at the key individual `creatives’ behind them (e.g. the writer-hyphenates who came up with the movie screenplay, and/or the specific movie story, for each of the top 20 RoI movies) we find the following stages (below) that they all passed through. The creative `product’ in this case, is: the top 20 RoI movie, in each case.

These stages (below) are thus, an integration of some key concepts from Bourdieu’s `practice theory’, and Csikszentmihalyi’s systems model of creativity, as a process (or, as an algorithm), over time.

Creative Practice Theory (The steps all Top 20 RoI Movie `writer-hyphenates' passed through) (Velikovsky 2013)

Creative Practice Theory (The steps that Top 20 RoI Movie `writer-hyphenates’ have passed through) (Velikovsky 2013)

Another view of this process is shown in the diagram below.

Systems Model - selection

Systems Model of Creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 1988-2014) – showing the selection of memes (where `memes’ are: ideas, processes, products) – Velikovsky 2014

In this view, memes (or, `ideas, or processes, or products’) in the domain (of knowledge) are selected by  individuals in the field, and are combined with other ideas (eg via Koestler’s (1967) `bisociation’, or Boden’s (2004) `combinatorial creativity’), and the new meme is then presented to the field, to judge.

– If the field judges the new meme (ie – idea, or process, or product) as creative (or, `novel and useful’) by consensus, then the meme enters the canon of that domain.

However, many of the memes are not judged creative – and thus do not become canon, although unless destroyed and eradicated from everyone’s memory, these memes (ideas, processes, products) still exist, in the domain. (e.g. there are many unpopular, or widely-criticized, and/or ignored, movies or books, for example.) ie – Non-canonical works,

A more detailed analysis and explanation of Creative Practice Theory, is below.

KEY CONCEPTS in Creative Practice Theory:

Practice TheoryFrench sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002) developed a sociology of culture, as first presented in An Outline of  a Theory of Practice (Bourdieu and Nice 1977) and subsequently developed further and in more detail (e.g., 1983, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1993).

Some key concepts in Bourdieu’s `practice theory’ include: four forms of capital (i.e., economic, social, cultural, and symbolic), and also, habitus, agents, and the field.

For more on practice theory, see  (Postill 2010: 1); also http://johnpostill.com/2008/10/30/what-is-practice-theory/ and, for a Bourdieuian `practice theory’ analysis of the UK film industry, see also Ian W Macdonald’s 2004 PhD Thesis, The Presentation of the Screen Idea in Narrative Film-making (Macdonald 2004).

The Feature Film Domain as a System

Figure 2 – The Feature Film Domain as a System (Velikovsky 2012) – as per Csikszentmihalyi’s systems model of creativity (1988-2006)

The systems model of creativityAmerican-Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has presented and refined a theory of creativity (1988, 1990, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2006, 2014), whereby:

`Creativity occurs when a person using the symbols of a given domain such as music, engineering, business or mathematics has a new idea or sees a new pattern, and when this novelty is selected by the appropriate field for inclusion into the relevant domain’

(M. Csikszentmihalyi 1996: 28)

Csikszentmihalyi and Wolfe (2000) also state that

`Creativity can be defined as an idea or product that is original, valued and implemented.’

(Csikszentmihalyi and Wolfe 2000: 81)

As noted above, it is worth also examining the article:

Runco, M. A., & Jaeger, G. J. (2012). The Standard Definition of Creativity. Creativity Research Journal, 24(1), 92-96.

And also, these two articles:

Kaufman, J. C., & Beghetto, R. A. (2009). `Beyond big and little: The Four C Model of Creativity.’ Review of General Psychology, 13, 1-12.

Kaufman, J. C., & Beghetto, R. A. (2013). `Do people recognize the four Cs? Examining layperson conceptions of creativity.’ Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 7(3), 229–236.

Key concepts in Csikszentmihalyi’s systems model of creativity, include: the Individual, the Field and the Domain; internalizing the Domain, and, creativity.

For more detail, please see this post on Creativity.

Creative Practice Theory (Velikovsky 2012)
Creative Practice Theory – a general model (Velikovsky 2012)

Key concepts from Bourdieu – from Bourdieu’s `practice theory’ (1977 -1993):

Practice Theory – Some key concepts in Bourdieu’s practice theory include: 4 types of capital (economic, social, cultural, and symbolic), habitus, agents, the field, and `the field of works’.

1) Four types of CapitalBourdieu initially recognized three types of capital used by agents (namely economic, cultural and social capital), to which he later added a fourth (symbolic capital – or,  resources available to the agent on the basis of honour, prestige or recognition) (Bourdieu 1986: 243).

2) Habitus`a feel for the game’, a `practical sense’ that is gained through experience (Bourdieu and Johnson 1993: 5).

3) Agents – Individuals in any field, whose agency is both enabled and constrained by their individual position within the structure of that field. (Bourdieu and Johnson 1993: 6) 

4) The FieldBourdieu examines various fields, including the arts, law, politics, economy, education and culture, noting that these are themselves a series of overlapping fields. (Bourdieu and Johnson 1993: 6) Compare with Csikszentmihalyi’s similar definition of `field’, below. 

5) The Field of Works – for example, individual films, and creative works about film (e.g., textbooks, courses, knowledge) – a concept which compares with Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of `The Domain’ (i.e. the knowledge).

The current thesis examines the domain and field of narrative fiction feature films, a domain and field which includes: feature film audiences, critics, filmmakers, academics, film/screenwriting teachers, and filmmaking students. In short, it includes what Csikszentmihalyi refers to as `gatekeepers’ for the domain – namely anyone who is `the audience’ for feature films – and therefore also, has an affect on how the films are `judged’ (whether they are considered creative, or not). Gatekeepers in this sense can also judge (by consensus) whether a work can enter the domain, and can become canon in the domain (or, not).

With regard to specific feature films, this therefore also includes: the box-office of the film (whether a film is – or was – `popular’ or `unpopular’), and also, includes the consensus of critical regard for a film (for e.g., awards, reviews (favourable, or otherwise), and also the ongoing esteem that certain films are held in by the film field; such as whether a film is considered a `classic’ – or is considered otherwise, etc.) This moves into areas of canon in a domain:

Categories of Canon

Categories of Canon (Velikovsky 2014)

Agency and Structure (or: the `Agency-Structure’ Question) – refers to whether agents (or individuals in the field, who can make choices) can be considered independently of the social structures (constraints / `rules’ / guidelines) within which they operate.

Bourdieu, Giddens, and Archer have published on this question, each offering slightly differing positions (Postill 2010, p. 1). I personally am convinced by various commentators who suggest that these concepts (i.e. agency – and structure) are, metaphorically: “two sides of the same coin”.

Some Key Concepts from Csikszentmihalyi – relating to the systems model of creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 1988-2006)

1) Creativity – Csikszentmihalyi and Wolfe state that `Creativity can be defined as an idea or product that is original, valued and implemented.’ (M. Csikszentmihalyi and Wolfe 2000: 81)

Figure 2: General Model of CreativitySource: (Csikszentmihalyi, M & Wolfe 2000, p. 81)

Figure 4: General Model of Creativity
Source: (Csikszentmihalyi, M & Wolfe 2000, p. 81)                  

Another definition of Creativity –

“For creativity to occur, a set of rules and practices must be transmitted from the domain to the individual. The individual must then produce a novel variation in the content of the domain. The variation then must be selected by the field for inclusion in the domain”

(Csikszentmihalyi 1999: 315).

(Note that this process occurs over time, as the 2-D animated model above, aims to demonstrate).

In the landmark work Creativity (M. Csikszentmihalyi 1996) Csikszentmihalyi presents the results of an empirical study of 91 exceptionally creative individuals, across various domains (including prize-winners and outstandingly creative individuals in both the arts and the sciences).

Other commentators such as Runco, Weisberg and Pope have offered certain critiques of the systems model of creativity, primarily noting that it potentially may privilege the individual as creator, over group creation (McIntyre 2012: 80-5).

However one of Csikszentmihalyi’s former students, R Keith Sawyer (for example in Explaining Creativity, 2006, 2012) has provided significant research on group creativity, which – in my view – does not appear to contradict any concepts within the systems model of creativity, at least, not insofar as how it applies to feature film creation.

There is more work on group creativity in:

Paulus, P. B., & Nijstad, B. A. (2003). Group Creativity: Innovation Through Collaboration. New York: Oxford University Press.


Sawyer, R. K. (2003). Group Creativity: Music, Theater, Collaboration. Mahwah, N.J.: L. Erlbaum Associates.

2) The Field – `The field… includes all individuals who act as gatekeepers to the domain.’ (M. Csikszentmihalyi 1996: 28) (Compare also with Bourdieu’s similar definition, above.) As noted above: for the domain of feature films, the `field’ which includes: feature film audiences, critics, filmmakers, academics, film/screenwriting teachers, and filmmaking students.

3) The Domain – in the systems model of creativity, a domain `consists of a set of symbolic rules and procedures… Domains are in turn nested in what we usually call culture, or the symbolic knowledge shared by a particular society or by humanity as a whole .’ (M. Csikszentmihalyi 1996: 27-28) (Note: it appears that Bourdieu refers to the domain concept noted here as “the field of works”. (McIntyre, 2008))

4) The DIFi (Domain, Individual, Field interaction) Systems model of Creativity –   

Figure 3: A systems model of creativitySource: (Csikszentmihalyi in Henry 2006, p. 3)

Figure 5: A systems model of creativity
Source: (Csikszentmihalyi in Henry 2006, p. 3)

Csikszentmihalyi also updated the model in 2014:

General model of creativity (in the Wiley Handbook of Creativity, ed: DK Simonton 2014)

General model of creativity (in the Wiley Handbook of Creativity, ed: DK Simonton 2014)

5) Internalising the DomainCsikszentmihalyi finds that in order to produce a work that will be judged creative by the field, a person must learn the rules of the domain, and practice their art/craft, a process which takes ten years on average. (M. Csikszentmihalyi 1996: 47), (Csikszentmihalyi 2004: 10-11 mins).

Combining Bourdieu’s practice theory – and Csikszentmihalyi’s systems model of creativityIn Musical Creativities in Practice (Burnard 2012) Burnard combines Bourdieu’s practice theory and Csikszentmihalyi’s systems model of creativity, with respect to musical creativities:

Fig 4: A synthesized framework for understanding multiple musical creativities integrating the theories of Csikszentmihalyi (1999) and Bourdieu (1993).Source: (Burnard 2012, p. 223)

Figure 6 – A synthesized framework for understanding multiple musical creativities integrating the theories of Csikszentmihalyi (1999) and Bourdieu (1993).
Source: (Burnard 2012, p. 223)

Other scholars that previously have also found Bourdieu and Csikszentmihalyi’s theories (namely practice theory, and the systems model of creativity) to be similar, include (McIntyre 2006), (Kupferberg 2006), (McIntyre 2008), (Kerrigan 2009), (Novrup Redvall 2012), (McIntyre 2012: 197).


I have therefore aimed to formulate a theoretical model, showing the synthesis and integration of five key concepts in Bourdieu’s practice theory, and five key concepts in Csikszentmihalyi’s systems model of creativity, to describe: Creative Practice Theory, or – how Csikszentmihalyi’s creatological system[1] and Bourdieu’s agents and fields may be combined (and various related, integrated practice theory concepts, such as habitus) when these two theoretical/conceptual frameworks are synthesized.

Please also note that, this Creative Practice Theory model/diagram is not attempting to completely synthesize every concept established by the two researchers above (i.e. Bourdieu and Csikszentmihalyi) – it is merely aimed at showing potential overlaps and connections of the 10 conceptual notions of:

5 Concepts from Bourdieu’s practice theory (1977-1993):

1) The Field (which is composed of Agents/Persons)

2) The Field of Works (which is composed of creative works, e.g. feature films, film textbooks, websites, etc). Some of these works (or the concepts within them) comprise the doxa.

3) Agents (i.e. Individuals who have agency, within the: social, economic, legal and power structures/fields they co-exist within, and also simultaneously, create)

4) Habitus – `a feel for the game’ developed by agents, over their lifetime

5) The four key forms of capital, as identified and described by Bourdieu (i.e. economic, social, cultural – and symbolic capital).

And – 5 key concepts from Csikszentmihalyi’s systems model of creativity (1998-2014):

1) The Field (or `gatekeepers’ to the domain – compare also with Bourdieu’s understanding of `The Field’)

2) The Domain (of creative works, as created by The Field – compare also with Bourdieu’s `The Field of Works’)

3) The Individual / Person (compare with Bourdieu’s understanding of `Agent/s’)

4) Internalising the Domain (compare also, with Bourdieu’s concept and theory of habitus)

5) Creativity (and – the DIFi systems model of creativity, i.e. Domain, Individual and Field interaction)

There are indeed certain other related concepts from Bourdieu for example (such as: doxa, and `agency-structure’) which are not, strictly speaking, explicitly `shown’ per se on the model, but which the Creative Practice Theory model itself also assumes. That is to say: without assuming `agency and structure’ underpinning the functioning of the model, the model itself could not exist in theory, nor indeed, in practice.

Given that the Creative Practice Theory systems model itself is iterative and recursive, below is also a diagram showing how the General Model of Creative Practice Theory finally appears, towards the latter part of their professional creative career, for an Individual (i.e., Person / `Agent’) at the point when their creativity has been validated by a consensus in the Field, and furthermore, after their work has also been consecrated (in Bourdieu’s terms) by the field, resulting in awards, titles and honours (i.e. the 4th kind of capital, namely Symbolic Capital).

Symbolic Capital is therefore the last entity to emerge from/within the system (and – for some creative individuals, it may in fact, never emerge/exist, during their own lifetime. (An example might be Vincent Van Gogh, in the domain of painting.) Arguably, filmmakers such as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Kathryn Bigelow – given various awards they have received – have attained a level of creative achievement that would result in the model shown below).

Creative Practice Theory (Velikovsky 2012)

Creative Practice Theory (Velikovsky 2012)

Figure 7: General model of Creative Practice Theory

Analysis: JT Velikovsky (2012)


Creative Practice Theory (Velikovsky 2012)

Figure 8 – Creative Practice Theory diagram – for an award-winning filmmaker (Velikovsky 2012)

Creative Practice Theory diagram – for an award-winning filmmaker

Analysis: JT Velikovsky (2012, 2013, 2017)


To explain the model, it is useful to show the individual components of the model and how they appear – over time – from the perspective of (and with respect to) an Individual (person/agent) represented within the model.

1.     The existing Social and Cultural Systems

Before an Individual is born, there pre-exists both a Social and Cultural System (in fact, many overlapping Social and Cultural systems, but this diagrammatic abstraction is here reduced to its simplest conceptual components).

The Social System – also pre-exists the individuals born into it – but is further shaped (evolved) by those individuals (in fact – by forces that are created, by the existence of these systems themselves), while those individuals in the Social System are alive.

Creative Practice Theory (Velikovsky 2012)

Figure 9 – Creative Practice Theory  model – Stage 1 (Velikovsky 2012)

Stage 1 – The overlap of the Social and Cultural systems, that pre-exist the Individual.

We are now looking at a specific Social and Cultural system (which `excludes’ other Social and Cultural systems), as: Individuals `emerge’ in a specific social and cultural context

(e.g. Say – the Individual was: born in Germany, on 16th October 1963, and attended school in Tokyo, university in London, and later married and settled down in New York while continuing to make films).

2.     An Individual (Person/Agent) emerges – into the existing Social and Cultural Systems, and finds a `calling’ (interests, creative problems to solve)

When an Individual is born (emerges) into – and raised to adulthood in – a Society and Culture/s (which, in the present day – can involve many overlapping and integrated societies and cultures), they are the product of their parents’ (or, guardians’) biological, social and cultural influences (and/or – predispositions), as well as that of their environment (peers, teachers, extended family), whilst growing to adulthood.

CPT General V2

Figure 10 – Stage 2 – An Individual (Person/Agent) at birth emerges (as a Biological entity) into the Social and Cultural systems.

3.     An Individual (Person/Agent) adult in the existing Social and Cultural Systems develops habitus (ways of solving problems). There may be discovered, presented or created problems in a domain. Some problems are complex, and require training and creativity. Teachers/Mentors appear or are sought out. 

CPT General V5

Figure 11 – Stage 3 – At adulthood, an individual has a Biological, Sociological and Cultural History. This is both a set of predispositions (due to their genetics, parents, peers, environment) and an individually accumulated history.

They have also developed a habitus (which begins at birth), a way of negotiating and navigating their way through (and, behaving in) various social situations.

The Adult Individual (Person/Agent) has absorbed (and, possibly contributed to) the Social and Cultural Systems, and has developed a habitus.

4.     An Individual (Person/Agent) adult has also acquired Economic Capital (access to money, property, technology) and habitus. More crucial teachers and/or mentors appear.

CPT General V6

Figure 12 – Stage 4 – An Individual adult has acquired Economic Capital, and habitus.

5. An Individual (Person/Agent) adult, absorbs (internalizes) the Domain, and interacts with the Field, further developing their habitus.

CPT General V9

Figure 13 – Stage 5 – Supposing that an Individual (Person/Agent) attends a university, to study (say) Filmmaking. They will absorb and internalize the (Film) Domain (i.e. watch films, read books, attend lectures and classes, read journals, magazines, etc.) They will learn (absorb) information from the Domain of Film, from members of the Field (for example, from their teachers, also filmmakers may come and speak at their university). As Csikszentmihalyi and others have observed, this “internalizing the domain” process, before an individual can make a contribution that is then judged creative by the Field usually takes 10 years on average.

The Individual may also work in the Field (say, in an entry-level role, in film production), and will meet many more members of the Field, from whom they will absorb more of the Domain (processes, practices and more information relating to film).

Csikszentmihalyi’s systems model of creativity (comprised of the 3 orange circles above: Domain, Field, Individual) is now incorporated into the model. (Noting that – Bourdieu would refer to the Domain as “the field of works”. (McIntyre, 2008))

These 3 components (Domain, Field, Individual/Person) interact in an iterative and recursive manner over time, which also, en masse, enables the Domain to evolve.

So – within the Social System, there exists a Film Field (i.e. persons in the film industry, film audiences, teachers, students, and film critics).

Within the Cultural System, there exists the Domain of film. This is composed of all creative artifacts relating to film, including: films, books, knowledge and information relating to film (including also: information that is stored only in the knowledge of individuals, and may be communicated verbally – or electronically via email or, social media – or otherwise).

6. After 10 years (on average), an Individual (Person/Agent) adult has absorbed (and internalized) the Domain, and has also continued to interact with the Field (creating artifacts, some of these succeed, some fail), further developing their habitus.

CPT General V10

Figure 14 – Stage 6 – The (creative) Individual has absorbed the Domain, after an average of 10 years of learning and practise.

7. After 10 years (on average), an Individual (Person/Agent) adult has absorbed (and internalized) the Domain, and has also continued to interact with the Field, further developing their habitus. The Individual has also acquired both Social Capital – and Cultural Capital. They set about creating an ambitious contribution/solving a hard domain problem.  


CPT General V10

Figure 15 – Stage 7 – The model showing the Individual’s (Person’s/Agent’s) acquired Social Capital and Cultural Capital.

The Individual’s Social Capital simultaneously resides both in the Individual and in the Field, and Social System (as it does not exist separate to – nor independently of – the Field, and the Social System).

Likewise the Individual’s Cultural Capital simultaneously resides both in the Individual and in the Domain and the Cultural System (as the Individual’s Cultural Capital includes both the Individual’s own contributions to the Domain/Culture, and their knowledge of the Domain, and the wider Culture/s, which includes many other Domains).

As outlined above – after (an average of) 10 years of Internalizing the Domain (i.e. learning, and practising in their chosen creative art/craft/domain), and also 10 years of interacting with the Field, The Individual (Person/Agent) is now (potentially) able to make a creative contribution to the Domain. That is, they may: contribute a `creative’ artefact, idea or process to the Domain that is judged creative (i.e. `novel and appropriate’, or `original, valued, and implemented’) by the Field.

8. After 10 years (on average) of internalizing the Domain and interacting with the Field, an Individual (Person/Agent) adult successfully makes a creative contribution to the Domain – i.e. one that is judged ‘creative’ by the Field. (Noting: Not all critics are always satisfied. See also: Planck’s Principle.)

CPT General V12

Figure 16 – Stage 8 – The person’s/agent’s creativity – occurs in the overlap of the Cultural and Social systems, i.e. outside the Individual (Person/Agent). Their contribution to the Domain is judged (selected, or de-selected) by the Field.

This is because, as Csikszentmihalyi states, Creativity does not occur until/unless the innovation is both implemented, and then recognized by the Field. The `final stage’ in Creativity therefore ultimately (`finally’) occurs outside the Individual. (i.e. the person creates the work, it is then implemented – for example, a feature film that a writer-director has been instrumental in creating – although filmmaking is certainly a group creative activity – and then the work is judged by the field; the creative work [the film itself] is either: popular or not, and either critically well-regarded, or not).

From this point of view, the 4 key stages involved are:

1)    internalising the Domain, (a filmmaker watches many films, both good and bad, noting how the Field has both regarded them in the past, and how the Field regards them currently)

2)    the bisociation[2] of ideas (or processes) by the Individual, a combinatorial creative process (for more detail, please see the earlier Blog post on memes, and memetic hybrid vigor)

3)    the implementation of the innovation (within the Domain, by the Field), (say when a feature film is released, theatrically) – and:

4)    the `final’ stage examined here is – the recognition/validation of the innovation (as `novel and appropriate’, or creative) by the Field. (The film may achieve a high box office, if it is a highly-viral meme, and/or may achieve: awards and positive critical appraisal.)

9. After making a creative contribution(s) to the Domain (i.e. contributions judged ‘creative’ by the Field) an Individual may also acquire other resources available due to recognition, prestige, awards, titles, honours (Symbolic Capital).

CPT General V14

Figure 17- Stage 9 – A Creative Individual (person/agent) (potentially) acquires Symbolic Capital.

Note that – not all creative Individuals (persons/agents) acquire Symbolic Capital, either during their career nor even, after their death. This acquisition of symbolic capital only occurs, if their work is consecrated (appreciated and highly valued, critically and aesthetically) by the Field.

At this point the 9 stages in the Creative Practice Theory model is complete, showing the synthesis of Bourdieu’s practice theory, and Csikszentmihalyi’s systems model of creativity.

Also please note that – the positioning of Symbolic Capital in the centre of the model above is not intended to necessarily privilege Symbolic Capital as any sort of causal factor in how the model `functions’. – It symbolic capital) is merely the last entity to emerge from (and, within) the Creative Practice Theory system/model, over time. (In some cases – i.e. indeed, for some creative Individuals, it may not ever emerge. For example, the filmmakers Stanley Kubrick, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock and David Fincher have not won an Oscar for Best Director.)

10. In Science, the domain problem is solved; the Field now has a new Kuhnian paradigm. Or in the Arts or Technology, a new widely-appreciated and/or influential artwork or invention (cultural artifact; meme; unit of culture) now exists for the field to enjoy.

Below is the Creative Practice Theory (General Model), showing the synthesis of Bourdieu and Csikszentmihalyi’s theories: i.e. practice theory, and the systems model of creativity.

CPT General V17 Figure 18 – The Creative Practice Theory Model – showing some key concepts from Bourdieu and Csikszentmihalyi

Q & A on the Creative Practice Theory model:

Q: What about agency and structure? Where are they located, in this model / diagram?

A: It is difficult to show agency and structure in a 2-dimensional diagram.

Please see the Creative Practice Theory agent-based model below for more on agency and structure, and for some of Bourdieu and Csikszentmihalyi’s key ideas: it is a computer model that runs in real time and demonstrates agency and structure.


Figure 1: Creative Practice Theory Narratology: the agent-based model online computer simulationAnalysis: the author (Velikovsky 2012f)

Figure 19 – Creative Practice Theory Narratology: the agent-based model online computer simulation
Analysis: the author (Velikovsky 2012f)

For instructions on running the model, see this post: StoryAlity #43B –  The `Creative Practice Theory’ online Agent-Based Model


Q: Why is `Symbolic Capital’ positioned at the centre of the model?

A: Although it is located at the centre of the model – it is not the `central’ effect of all the interacting elements, it is merely the last effect to appear, noting also that Bourdieu stated that Symbolic Capital is closely related to Social and Cultural Capital.

Note that Symbolic Capital is therefore, the last element to emerge for a creative Individual (if indeed, it emerges at all – in the form of prestige, awards, titles, and/or honours). Some creative individuals’ careers are better described by the previous version of the model, i.e. without Symbolic Capital included, if they never attain prestige, awards, titles, honours (either within their lifetime, or afterwards).

Q: Why do `habitus’ and `internalized Domain’ both overlap the Individual’s (person’s/ agent’s) Bio-Socio-Cultural History, in the model?

A: Because habitus is developed (from birth) over time, and likewise the Domain is internalized over time. Therefore `habitus’ and `internalized Domain’ both overlap the Individual’s personal history.

Q: Are you attempting to combine everything from Bourdieu and everything from Csikszentmihalyi in a single diagram? 

A: No. That is why you don’t see other Bourdieuian concepts like `doxa’ and `agency and structure’ on this diagram. This is just an attempt to synthesize key ideas in practice theory (Bourdieu’s terms such as: the field, habitus, agent, and 4 forms of capital) and some key ideas of creativity theory (Csikszentmihalyi’s terms such as: creativity, the domain, field, individual, and `internalizing the domain’).

Q: From whose perspective does this model describe this bio-socio-cultural system?

A: The model describes the system from the point of view of the Individual (person / agent). This is why the Individual’s `4 forms of Capital’ are shown. Although these forms of capital belong to the Individual, they co-exist/are located both inside and outside the Individual. However for the sake of simplicity and ease of understanding of the model, in the model itself, Bourdieu’s 4 forms of capital are only shown to exist outside the Individual.

Q: Why do `habitus’ and `internalized Domain’ partially overlap in the model?

A: Because an internalized Domain will inform – and influence – an Individual’s habitus, and likewise – an individual’s habitus will inform and influence, how (and how much) the Individual internalizes the Domain.

Q: What exactly is contained in the red section below, i.e. where everything overlaps/ intersects?

Creative Practice Theory (Velikovsky 2012)
Figure 20 – Creative Practice Theory – Intersections (Velikovsky 2012)

The (central) intersection/overlap of all entities (indicated in red).  

A: The intersection of all entities includes the overlap/intersection of:

The first/base level:

1)    The Social System

2)    The Cultural System

3)    The Individual’s Personal Bio-Socio-Cultural History

The second level: (concepts from Csikszentmihalyi)

4)    The Individual (person/agent)

5)    The Field

6)    The Domain (in essence, Bourdieu referred to this as “the field of works” (McIntyre, 2008))

The third level: (concepts from Bourdieu)

7)    Economic Capital (possessed by an Individual)

8)    Social Capital (possessed by an Individual)

9)    Cultural Capital (possessed by an Individual)

The fourth level:

10) The Individual’s habitus (from Bourdieu)

11) The Individual’s internalized Domain (from Csikszentmihalyi)

And the fifth level:

12) The Individual’s creativity (from Csikszentmihalyi) – [once it is validated by the Field]

Upon which a sixth level may (or – may not) emerge:

13) Symbolic capital (possessed by an Individual) (from Bourdieu)

Given that creativity emerges after the other 11 elements/components/entities are present, the first 11 entities all are necessary and sufficient for creativity to occur. (This is not to say that, if the first 11 also exist, that creativity will inevitably emerge in the interaction between the Individual, Field and Domain. However, if the first 11 are present, then creativity may then emerge.)

Q: Do these things really happen in that `linear, sequential’ order, in practise?

A: Not exactly. The model is broken down into 9 or so linear, sequential, `separate’-order steps/stages above – in order to make the final model itself (see below) more easily understandable.

In practise, an Individual acquires Economic, Social, Cultural and Symbolic Capital iteratively and recursively. The individual components of the model (the Field, Domain, etc) are also constantly in flux, as more creative artifacts are constantly added to the Domain, as some artifacts, processes and ideas (including aesthetics) are selected and others also deselected from the Domain of works judged `creative’ by the Field. Also, people (individuals/agents) both enter and leave the Field, during the timespan of the Individual’s active career.

So – while the above `stages’ are not literally sequential – they do give a general overall indication of how all the various elements interact, and how (and, generally, in what order) the various entities/components emerge. At any given point in time, we might “freeze” the model – and measure exactly how much Economic, Social, Cultural and Symbolic Capital a specific creative Individual has, but given that `time marches on’, the model itself is never static. It is much like a `living organism’, as it constantly evolves and changes over time.

As above – for more detail on this (including `agency and structure’ over time), see:

Creative Practice Theory – The Agent-Based Model (Velikovsky 2012)


Thus, we finally arrive at the final Creative Practice Theory model (including the final addition of Symbolic Capital):


Creative Practice Theory (Velikovsky 2012)

Figure 21 – Creative Practice Theory model (Velikovsky 2012)

Figure 21 – Creative Practice Theory – General Model

Analysis: JT Velikovsky (2012, 2017)

This general model of Creative Practice Theory therefore describes how the creative system works with respect to an Individual, integrating certain key concepts from Bourdieu and Csikszentmihalyi.

In summary – this (hypothetical) creative Individual represented by the model has acquired habitus, has internalized the Domain (over say, ten years), has interacted with the Field, has made contributions to the Domain that have been judged creative by the Field, and in their career has acquired and utilized all 4 forms of capital, including the fourth and `final’ form – namely Symbolic Capital – in terms of honour, prestige and recognition.

The model shown above might therefore represent the creative practice theory system for (say) a Nobel prize-winning scientist, a Pulitzer prize-winning novelist, an Academy award-winning filmmaker, or a Grammy award-winning musician.

Animated GIF of the elements in the model: (Velikovsky 2012)

CPT General Model Diagram (Velikovsky 2012)

Figure 22 – Creative Practice Theory – General Model Diagram (Velikovsky 2012)

And finally: Why Is This Important?

The short answer is: 

If you are a creative individual (by Csikszentmihalyi’s definition), the above model comprehensively describes your life and work.

Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (and Associate Professor R Keith Sawyer, who as Csikszentmihalyi’s student, conducted most of the interviews in Creativity, 1996) has seen and approved this Creative Practice Theory model, as a synthesis of practice theory and the systems model of creativity. (Unfortunately, the great Professor Bourdieu passed away in 2001).

Elsewhere I have suggested that the unit of culture – the meme – is the holon.

i.e.: Movies are memes, which are holons.

Please see:

  1. StoryAlity #100 – The Holonic Structure of the Meme – the unit of culture (2012)
  2. StoryAlity #101 – A Science of Memetic Culturology (2012)

And also see my chapter in the following collection of academic conference papers:

  1. StoryAlity #96 – Transmedia Practice: A Collective Approach (2014)

Some quotes from Creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 1996)

`In cultural evolution there are no mechanisms equivalent to genes and chromosomes. Therefore a new idea is not automatically passed on to the next generation. Instructions for how to use fire, or the wheel or atomic energy are not built into the nervous systems of children born after such discoveries. Each child has to learn them again from the start. The analogy to genes in the evolution of culture are memes, or units of information we must learn if culture is to continue. Languages, numbers, theories, songs, recipes, laws and values are all memes that we pass on to our children so that they will be remembered. It is these memes that a creative person changes, and if enough of the right people see the change as an improvement, it will become part of the culture.

(Csikszentmihalyi 1996: 7 – emphasis mine)

And also:

`Creativity, at least as I deal with it in this book, is a process by which a symbolic domain in the culture is changed. New songs, new ideas, new machines are what creativity is about. But because these changes do not happen automatically as in biological evolution, it is necessary to consider the price we must pay for creativity to occur. It takes effort to change traditions. For example, memes must be learned before they can be changed: A musician must learn the music tradition, the notation system, the way instruments are played before she can think of writing a new song; before an airplane inventor can improve on airplane design he has to learn physics, aerodynamics, and why birds don’t fall out of the sky. If we want to learn anything, we must pay attention  to the information to be learned. And attention is a limited resource: There is just so much information we can process at any given time.’

(Csikszentmihalyi 1996: 8 – emphasis mine)

So – the Creative Practice Theory model itself means – from the point of view of a Feature Film Screenwriter – we can meaningfully examine and analyse how the Writer-hyphenates of the top 20 ROI Feature Films (memes, holons) created the films (memes, memeplexes, holons, holarchies) that ultimately became the Top 20 RoI (i.e. most viral) feature films (or: film memes).

The Top 20 Audience Reach/Budget Films of the Last 70 Years. Data Source: The-Numbers.com. Analysis: JT Velikovsky

The Top 20 Audience Reach/Budget Films of the Last 70 Years. Data Source: The-Numbers.com. Analysis: JT Velikovsky

What results from this analysis – are some useful guidelines for increasing the probability of your feature film story (i.e. memeplex) going viral.

Many other existing screenplay systems only take a specific and limited view of the scripts they analyse with no reference to the context in which they were created; however – a more comprehensive view of the overall creative process involved in creating a High RoI screenplay is – arguably – more useful and informative for screenwriters/filmmakers.

The Top 20 ROI Films by Release Year (Velikovsky 2012)

The Top 20 ROI Films – Frequency – by Release Year (Velikovsky 2012)

i.e. How were these 20 screenplays and films created? Where did the original ideas come from? Why is there such a striking regularity to the frequency of the appearance of a top 20 ROi Film? Is there a pattern underlying the story structure of all these 20 films (Answer: Yes.) And – Is there a set of empirical guidelines that results from this data, that may assist filmmakers in reaching the widest possible audience for their screen story?

Future Trends: # of Scenes and # of Screenplay Pages/Film Minutes

Predicted Future Trends: # of Scenes and # of Screenplay Pages/Film Minutes in the Top 20 ROI (most viral) Feature Films

A short answer to the question is that: 

Each of these screenwriters (writer-hyphenates) had: a social and cultural context; developed a habitus; internalized the domain of screenwriting and film; navigated the field, accumulated cultural, economic and social capital; and using all this finally produced a work (a feature film) that was judged `creative’ (novel and appropriate) by the field – and finally resulted in symbolic capital (i.e. high audience reach for their film, awards, titles, and recognition).

The longer answer – (elaborated elsewhere) involves the specific life and career-trajectory details for each of these individuals, and also gives useful (often: fascinating) details and guidelines for any aspiring High ROI screenwriters/filmmakers.

It is germane to raise Dacey and Lennon’s creative process model here. Kerrigan states that:

Dacey and Lennon’s creative process model explains the bio-psycho-social-cultural sources of the creative process by identifying six components that influence the individual: biological, cognitive, personality, micro-societal (dynamics of family, friendships and living arrangements), macro-societal (environmental influences like neighbourhood, work, education, religion, ethics, legal, economic and political) and time (1998: 225).

(Kerrigan 2011, p. 10)

This Creative Practice Theory model also includes the notion that stories, screenplays and films are units of culture, or, memes (and in fact, memeplexes) and holon/partons (and, holarchies).

Lifecycle of a meme

Lifecycle of a meme.

Source: The Lifecycle of Memes by Henrik Bjarneskans, Bjarne Grønnevik and Anders Sandberg: http://www.aleph.se/Trans/Cultural/Memetics/memecycle.html


Holarchy of a Film Story (Velikovsky 2012)

Figure 1: A holarchy within the film domainAnalysis: JT Velikovsky

The holarchy of the film domain itself
Analysis: JT Velikovsky

The Film Holarchy: The `Pond Ripple' Model - (Velikovsky 2012)

The Film Holarchy: The `Pond Ripple’ Model of a viral film meme – (Velikovsky 2012)

See also: StoryAlity #100 – The Holon-Parton Structure of the Meme – the Unit of Culture (Velikovsky 2013, 2014)

And this book chapter (2016) which is free to download, for academic purposes:

StoryAlity #132The holon/parton structure of the Meme, the unit of culture (and narreme, or unit of story)

If a movie screenwriter is aware of all this, it potentially may help them to succeed in a highly-competitive field (e.g. feature filmmaking) where 98% of screen ideas presented to producers are unmade, and then of the 2% made, 7 in 10 movies lose money.

The Question Is – How do you not only: avoid creating one of the 70% of films that don’t go viral, but more importantly for a creative person (and team, given group creativity), how can you increase the probability of your movie story/message/theme/s (whatever you choose them to be, given the operation of Agency and Structure) reaching the widest possible audience?

This the key real-world problem that this research aims to address.*

For more detail see also: StoryAlity #115The `Less-Than-1%’ Problem in the Domain of Film

Comparing the monomyth (Vogler 1992) and Creative Practice Theory (Velikovsky 2016)

Creative Practice Theory (Velikovsky, 2012, 2014b, 2016a) is a synthesis of the sociocultural systems model of creativity (Csikszentmihalyi, 1988, 2014, 2015) and practice theory (Bourdieu & Johnson, 1993; Bourdieu & Nice, 1977).

The model describes the key stages of how creative artifacts emerge in culture.

In the table below, the monomyth algorithm and the Creative Practice Theory algorithm are compared.



via (Vogler, 2007, p. 8)



(Velikovsky 2012, 2016a, 2017)

1. THE ORDINARY WORLD 1. The Social and Cultural Systems pre-date the emergence of the individual


2. CALL TO ADVENTURE 2. An Individual (Person/Agent) emerges (is born, and raised) – into existing Social and Cultural System/s, and finds a `calling’ (interests, passions, creative problems to solve)


3. REFUSAL OF THE CALL 3. The Individual develops habitus (“a feel for the game” / ways of solving problems). These may be discovered, presented or created problems in a domain; some problems are complex, and require training and creativity. Teachers/Mentors are sought out, and/or appear.


4. MEETING WITH THE MENTOR 4. The Individual has acquired access to Economic Capital (money, property, technology) and habitus. More crucial teachers and/or mentors appear.




5. The Individual absorbs (internalizes) the Domain, and interacts with the Field, further developing their habitus.


6. TESTS, ALLIES, ENEMIES 6. After 10 years or so, the Individual has absorbed (and internalized) the Domain, and has also continued to interact with the Field (creating artifacts; some succeed, some fail), further developing their habitus.


7. APPROACH TO THE INMOST CAVE 7. The Individual has also acquired both Social Capital – and Cultural Capital. They set about creating an ambitious contribution to the domain / solving a hard problem.


8. ORDEAL See above (i.e., Step 7 of CPT).


9. REWARD (SEIZING THE SWORD) 8. The Individual successfully makes a creative contribution to the Domain – i.e. one that is judged ‘creative’ by a consensus of the Field.


10. THE ROAD BACK (A continuation of Step 8, above, noting that: Not all critics are always satisfied. See also: Planck’s Principle.)


11. RESURRECTION 9. After making a creative contribution(s) to the Domain (i.e. contribution/s judged ‘creative’ by the Field) the Individual may also acquire other resources, available due to recognition, prestige, awards, titles, honours (i.e., Symbolic Capital).


12. RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR 10. The `boon’: If in Science, the Domain problem is now solved; the Field now has a new Kuhnian paradigm.

Or if in the Arts, or Technology, a new, widely-appreciated and/or influential artwork or invention (cultural artifact; meme; unit of culture) now exists, for the Field (audience for that domain) to enjoy.


Table 1 – Comparison of the monomyth to Creative Practice Theory (Velikovsky 2012, 2017)

Both Charles Darwin and Stanley Kubrick’s careers appear to follow the above pattern.

Here is a table of my analysis of Darwin and Kubrick’s careers as a monomyth.

And thus, at the same time, also analyzing their careers as Creative Practice Theory. (See the table above again, if you have forgotten why. And don’t feel bad, this stuff’s complex!)


The monomyth

via (Vogler, 2007, p. 8)



(sources: various, see below)


(source: LoBrotto 1997)

1. THE ORDINARY WORLD Prior to 1831 (when Darwin joined the Beagle expedition), despite the work of (Buffon, 1749) and others, the mechanisms of Evolution remained unsolved problems in both the domains of biology and in culture.

The young Darwin is fascinated by zoology (including collecting and shooting; later to become invaluable skills) (Darwin, Barlow, & Wyhe, [1958] 2002-, pp. 14, 28, 44, online)

By 1950, since Orson Welles (Citizen Kane, 1941), no comparable genius-level masterworks of American cinema have appeared.

Young Kubrick also feels that he can do better than most Hollywood movies he sees, most of which are `bad’ in his view.[i]

2. CALL TO ADVENTURE In July 1837, Darwin begins his first notebook on `Transmutation of Species’ (Gruber, 1981, p. 20). Namely, after his 1831-36 Beagle voyage, in 1837-38, Darwin constructed his theory of evolution (Gruber, 1981, p. xvii).

In terms of the broad hero’s journey:

`From 1838 onward, explaining as much of nature as possible by means of the theory of evolution through natural selection remained the central task of Darwin’s life.’ (Gruber, 1981, pp. 105-6)


In 1950 Alex Singer and Kubrick decide to make a short film together (a tragic teenage love story) with Kubrick as cinematographer (LoBrutto, 1997, p. 56).
3. REFUSAL OF THE CALL Darwin resists publishing his theory – not least to avoid offending his religious wife, and challenging Natural Theology / The Church


Kubrick resigns from this short film project in pre-production, as Singer has made all the creative choices (LoBrutto, 1997, p. 57).
4. MEETING WITH THE MENTOR 28th September 1838, Darwin reads Malthus’ Essay on the Principles of Population; he now has the `missing’ principle he needs (i.e., superfecundity).

Interestingly, Malthus was a Reverend, and thus ironically: Darwin can use the Church’s `Natural Theology’ against Creationism.  


Other Mentors include: Erasmus Darwin, Robert Grant, John Henslow, Charles Lyell, and Adam Sedgewick (also a Shapeshifter archetype – as he was a professor of Darwin’s at Cambridge, and educated Darwin on a geological field trip in 1831 – but was later a savage critic of the Origin) (Gruber, 1981, pp. 79-80, 85-78), William Whewell likewise was a mentor (Darwin knew him via Henslow) but a later shapeshifter/enemy, as he attacked the Origin (Gruber, 1981, p. 89).


Kubrick does a Life magazine photoshoot of the boxer Walter Cartier (ibid, p. 47-8); he also sees a fight film about Roland LaStarza and feels he can do better (pp. 59-60); he decides to make a documentary on Cartier, namely Day of the Fight (1951) (p. 60). He will teach himself filmmaking (p. 58).


Other Mentors include: Orson Welles, Max Ophuls (i.e., their films and techniques, as a cinematic inspiration); famous photographers Weegee and Annie Liebovitz; the photography staff at Life; Alex Singer.

5. CROSSING THE FIRST THRESHOLD Darwin writes a sketch of evolution in 1839 (and a second in 1842). `On July 5, 1844, he finished a 230-page “Sketch of Species Theory” as he called it, setting forth his views much as they appeared in the Origin of Species.’ (Gruber, 1981, p. 261).

In 1844 Darwin wrote to his friend Hooker: `It is like confessing a murder’ (Gruber, 1981, p. 297)

Kubrick sells the film to distributor RKO-Pathé US (p. 64).
6. TESTS, ALLIES, ENEMIES Tests: Darwin’s recurrent illness, and many difficulties on the Beagle voyage

Allies: Hooker, Huxley and Lyell, (Gruber, 1981, p. 91), Emma Darwin, and Darwin’s protégé George Romanes.

Enemies: Primarily Natural Theologists and the Church. Darwin wrote in his `C’ Notebook: `What the Frenchman [Lamarck] did for species between England and France, I will do with forms. – Mention persecution of early Astronomers…’ (Gruber, 1981, p. 200)

Key Enemies include: Richard Owen, who harshly attacked Origin of Species (Gruber, 1981, pp. 84-85), Sedgewick, and Whewell


Shapeshifters: `ex-Mentors’ but later Enemies: Sedgewick, Whewell and FitzRoy. `[FitzRoy] himself was a professed Christian, a believer in every word of Scripture, and a natural enemy of all evolutionary thought.’ (Gruber, 1981, p. 183)


Kubrick makes two more short films. The Flying Padre and The Seafarers.
7. APPROACH TO THE INMOST CAVE Darwin receives Wallace’s letter in 1858, and both papers are read at the Royal Society. It appears possible Darwin may lose claim to his theory, to Wallace.


Kubrick prepares to make his first feature film, Fear and Desire (1953).
8. ORDEAL Darwin hammers out the Origin in a year, and publishes it (Gruber, 1981, p. xvii)


The movie production is difficult, and the Musician’s Union and others press for unpaid debts.
9. REWARD (SEIZING THE SWORD) The Origin (1859) sells out on its first day! Fear and Desire obtains a cinema release.
10. THE ROAD BACK Natural Theologists are outraged by the Origin, and attack Darwin


The film is a commercial and critical failure. Kubrick breaks up with first wife Toba Metz, begins relationship with Ruth Sobotka. Still in debt, Kubrick makes his second film, Killer’s Kiss (1955).
11. RESURRECTION Darwin publishes The Descent of Man (1871) Though still in debt, Kubrick creates his third feature-length but first artistically `mature’ film, The Killing (1956); Time magazine compares Kubrick to Orson Welles; Kubrick has finally attracted Hollywood attention (LoBrutto, 1997, p. 126).
12. RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR The unsolved domain problem of Evolution is solved (1859); the life sciences now have a unifying theory.


Evolution goes on to expand into the Modern Synthesis, and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis, and via Consilience (Wilson 1998) expands to Evolutionary Psychology, the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities.


Via the systems model of creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 1988, 2015) and D K Simonton’s BVSR theory of creativity, evolution extends to Cultural Evolution!

And synthesizing all of the above, (Darwin, Csikszentmihalyi, Simonton etc) see also the structure of the meme, the unit of culture (2017).


Kubrick goes on to create seven cinematic master works: Paths of Glory (1957), Dr. Strangelove (1964), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Barry Lyndon (1975), The Shining (1980), Full Metal Jacket (1987).



FOOTNOTE to Table above

[i] `“One of the important things about seeing run-of-the-mill Hollywood films eight times a week was that many of them were so bad” Kubrick told Bernard Weintraub of the New York Times. “Without even beginning to understand what the problems of making films were, I was taken with the impression that I could not do a film any worse than the ones I was seeing. I also felt I could, in fact, do them a lot better.”’ (LoBrutto, 1997, p. 15)


Indeed, any successful creative in the Arts or Sciences or Invention follows Creative Practice Theory. Or, the monomyth, or Science, which is all actually one and the same thing.

So – on this view, Creative Practice Theory adheres closely to the monomyth `problem-solving algorithm’.

The problem (i.e., the task, or the goal) in this case might be framed as “How does one become an eminent creative?”

Obviously, not all creatives (in Science, the Arts or Technology) are eminent-genius-level `heroes’, thus the 5-C model of creativity (Velikovsky 2017) can be seen to apply. We all fall somewhere on this spectrum below, namely, our ideas, processes, or products (our memes!) The 5-C model of Creativity - Velikovsky 2017


Solving a “less than world-changing” problem may merely make someone an `everyday’ hero – or on wider scales, a professional hero.

It is noted that 98% of screenplays do not become movies (see my PhD), thus, merely making a movie may well be considered `heroic’ on some level, by aspiring filmmakers…?

Anyway – thanks for reading!

Bathrust Beanie polaroid

…Thoughts, Comments and Feedback, always most welcome.

(Well, unless it’s an invalid criticism, in which case, stop wasting both our times!!!)



Dr JT Velikovsky PhD

High-RoI Story/Screenplay/Movie – and Transmedia – Researcher

The above is (mostly) an adapted excerpt, from my doctoral thesis: “Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema” It is presented here for the benefit of fellow screenwriting and filmmaking researchers. For more see https://aftrs.academia.edu/JTVelikovsky

JT Velikovsky is also a produced feature film screenwriter and million-selling transmedia writer-director-producer. He has been a professional story analyst for major film studios, film funding organizations, and for the national writer’s guild. For more see: http://on-writering.blogspot.com/


* It may be worth noting – as outlined above, the researcher is also a million-selling transmedia writer and game designer; produced and award-winning feature film screenwriter, and this film research was conducted within the discipline of Communication. The researcher was also the former National Games Market Analyst, and has also previously published peer-reviewed academic work within the Computer Science Discipline.

The purpose of pointing all this out is simply to note that Science – and the Arts – are not exclusive Disciplines – and in fact, as Csikszentmihalyi has noted, it is in fact when Disciplines overlap/intersect, that Creativity often occurs:

`What makes [the] breakdown in communication among disciplines so dangerous is that… most creative achievements depend on making connections among disparate domains. The more obscure and separate knowledge becomes, the fewer the chances that creativity can reveal itself.’

(Csikszentmihalyi 1996: 338)

And – likewise, in 20 years working as a feature film screenwriter and professional story analyst for major film studios – and also, after reading 100 screenwriting textbooks as a literature review in 1995, I first became aware of various key (and serious) problems in the Domain of Feature Film Screenwriting (among many others – such as basing the Film Screenwriting Convention on the work of Aristotle):

`“Your research project gets defined partly by some internal fascination for which one cannot account in any detail, preparation that is unique because of the life history of that person, luck, and something to work against.

That is, something that you are dissatisfied with, that other people are doing.’

An intellectual problem is not restricted to a particular domain. Indeed, some of the most creative breakthroughs occur when an idea that works well in one domain gets grafted to another and revitalizes it.

This was certainly the case with the widespread applications of  physics’ quantum theory to neighbouring disciplines like chemistry and astronomy.

Creative people are ever alert to what people over the fence are doing… A large majority of our respondents were inspired by a tension in their domain that became obvious when looked at from the perspective of another domain.

Even though they do not think of themselves as interdisciplinary, their best work bridges realms of ideas.

Their histories tend to cast doubts on the wisdom of overspecialization, where bright young people are trained to become exclusive experts in one field and shun breadth like the plague.’

(Csikszentmihalyi 1996: 88-9)

(The `Creativity’ in this instance would be: the above Creative Practice Theory model, in combining/synthesizing theory – and empirical research (by Csikszentmihalyi and Bourdieu) – from within Psychology (Csikszentmihalyi) and Sociology (Bourdieu), and also, extensive Statistical and Narrative analysis of feature films.)

For more on interdisciplinary combinatorial creativity, see this post.

Please also see the Creative Practice Theory Narratology online computer model for a further elaboration of the above Creative Practice Theory model: (click the image below, to open the online computer model in a new browser window)

Figure 1: Creative Practice Theory Narratology: the agent-based model online computer simulationAnalysis: the author (Velikovsky 2012f)

Creative Practice Theory Narratology: the agent-based model online computer simulation
Analysis: the author (Velikovsky 2012f)

If the above Java applet fails to load, perhaps see also the videos at:

  1. StoryAlity #43B –  The `Creative Practice Theory’ online Agent-Based Model
  2. StoryAlity #43C – Creative Practice Theory – The Game
  3. and…
  4. StoryAlity #65 – The StoryAlity K-Film: Ep 1 (online i-doc – interactive documentary)

…Comments welcome.


JT Velikovsky



Bourdieu, Pierre (1986), ‘`The Forms of Capital’’, in John G. Richardson (ed.), Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press), 241-58.

Bourdieu, Pierre and Nice, Richard (trans.) (1977), Outline of a Theory of Practice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

Bourdieu, Pierre and Johnson, Randal (ed.) (1993), The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on Art and Literature (New York: Columbia University Press).

Burnard, Pamela (2012), Musical Creativities in Practice (Oxford: Oxford University Press) xv, 308 p.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: `Flow – the secret to happiness’ at TED Conference in 2004 (TED Conferences LLC, 2004). Between 10-11 mins, Csikszentmihalyi speaks on `The Ten Year Rule’ (See: http://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow.html). See also: The Ten-Year Rule in Dictionary of Creativity: Terms, Concepts, Theories & Findings in Creativity Research, Compiled and edited by Eugene Gorny, Netslova.ru, 2007.

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1996), Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention (1st edn.; New York: HarperCollins) viii, 456 p.

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly and Wolfe, Rustin (2000), ‘New Conceptions and Research Approaches to Creativity: Implications for a Systems Perspective of Creativity in Education’, in K. A.  Heller, et al. (eds.), International Handbook of Giftedness and Talent (2nd ed. edn.; Amsterdam; Oxford: Elsevier).

Csikszentmihalyi in Henry, Jane (2006), Creative Management and Development (3rd edn.; London: SAGE) xii, 259 p.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2014). The Systems Model of Creativity and Its Applications. In D. K. Simonton (Ed.), The Wiley Handbook of Genius. Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Kerrigan, S. (2011), ‘Creative Documentary Practice: Internalising the Systems Model of Creativity through documentary video and online practice’, PhD thesis, The University of Newcastle (http://hdl.handle.net/1959.13/929852)

Koestler, A. (1964), The Act of Creation, Hutchinson, London.

Kupferberg, F. (2006), Rethinking the Pedagogical Sociology (Copenhagen: Hans Reitzels).

Macdonald, Ian W. (2004), ‘The Presentation of the Screen Idea in Narrative Film-making’, PhD Thesis, (Leeds Metropolitan University).

McIntyre, Phillip (2006), ”Paul McCartney and the creation of “Yesterday”: The systems model in operation”, Popular Music, 25 (2), 201-19.

McIntyre, Phillip (2008), ‘The Systems Model of Creativity: Analyzing the Distribution of Power in the Studio’, Journal of the Art of Record Production, Vol.: Supplement to ARP08, The Peer – Reviewed Proceedings of the 2008 Art of Record Production Conference, Issue no. 4.

— (2008), ‘Creativity and Cultural Production: A study of contemporary western music songwriting’, Creativity Research Journal, 20 (1), 40-52.

— (2012), Creativity and Cultural Production: Issues for Media Practice (Basingstoke; New York: Palgrave Macmillan) vii, 233 p.

Novrup Redvall, E. (2012), ”A systems view of film-making as a creative practice’ ‘, Northern Lights Yearbook of Film and Media Studies [Film and Media Production: Convergence, Creativity and Collaboration]. , 10 (1), 57-73.

Postill, J. (2010), ‘Introduction: Theorising media and practice. ‘, in B. Bräuchler and J. Postill (eds.), Theorising Media and Practice (Oxford and New York Berghahn).

Sawyer, R K (2006), `Explaining Creativity: The Science of Human Innovation’, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Velikovsky, J. T. (2014). `Two Successful Transmedia Film Case Studies: The Blair Witch Project (1999) and The Devil Inside (2012). In D. Polson, A.-M. Cook, J. Velikovsky & A. Brackin (Eds.), Transmedia Practice: A Collective Approach (pp. 103-117). London: ID-Press (InterDisciplinary.Net).

Velikovsky, J. T. (2016). `Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema: A comparative study of the top 20 Return-on-Investment (RoI) Movies and the Doxa of Screenwriting’. PhD Thesis, University of Newcastle, Newcastle Australia. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1959.13/1324018

[1] Csikszentmihalyi has (rightly) suggested `creatology’ as a term for describing the study of creativity, and its related systems. In these terms, the word itself can be compared with `biology’, `sociology’, `culturology’, etc. Therefore in the same way that biology is studied in a biological system, creatology is studied in a creatological system. (Noting that – the term “creatology” was not in fact coined by Csikszentmihalyi, but was first proposed by fellow Hungarian Istvan Magyari-Beck, see the web page: http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/Creatology) – and my thanks to Associate Professor R Keith Sawyer for this information.)


[2] In The Act of Creation (1964) Arthur Koestler uses the term `bisociation’ to mean the combining of two previously disparate or incompatible contexts, and/or ideas: “I have coined the term ‘bisociation’ in order to make a distinction between the routine skills of thinking on a single ‘plane’, as it were, and the creative act, which, as I shall try to show, always operates on more than one plane.” (Koestler 1964)

45 thoughts on “Creative Practice Theory (…What is it?)

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