CREATIVE PRACTICE THEORY: The Model
By Dr JT Velikovsky
(15th Dec 2012; updated June 2015, March 2016, Dec 2016)
My PhD thesis is a free PDF, online here: StoryAlity #135 – PhD Dissertation Addendum (2016). Below is an adapted excerpt on: Creative Practice Theory.
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.
`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.
Another view of this process is shown in the diagram below.
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 Theory – French 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 systems model of creativity – American-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’
Csikszentmihalyi and Wolfe (2000) also state that
`Creativity can be defined as an idea or product that is original, valued and implemented.’
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.
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 Capital – Bourdieu 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 Field – Bourdieu 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:
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)
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 –
Csikszentmihalyi also updated the model in 2014:
5) Internalising the Domain – Csikszentmihalyi 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 creativity – In Musical Creativities in Practice (Burnard 2012) Burnard combines Bourdieu’s practice theory and Csikszentmihalyi’s systems model of creativity, with respect to musical creativities:
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).
CREATIVE PRACTICE THEORY – Velikovsky (2012)
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 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).
Figure 7: General model of Creative Practice Theory
Analysis: JT Velikovsky (2012)
CREATIVE PRACTICE THEORY MODEL – SHOWING CONCEPTS FROM BOURDIEU AND CSIKSZENTMIHALYI
Creative Practice Theory diagram – for an award-winning filmmaker
Analysis: JT Velikovsky (2012, 2013)
AN EXPLANATION OF THE COMPONENTS OF THE MODEL
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.
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
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.
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
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 acquired Economic Capital (money, property) and habitus.
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.
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, an Individual (Person/Agent) adult has absorbed (and internalized) the Domain, and has also continued to interact with the Field, further developing their habitus.
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, 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.
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 of internalizing the Domain and interacting with the Field, an Individual (Person/Agent) adult creates a creative contribution to the Domain – i.e. one that is judged ‘creative’ by the Field.
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)
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).
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. Creative Practice Theory (General Model), showing the synthesis of Bourdieu and Csikszentmihalyi’s theories: i.e. practice theory, and the systems model of creativity.
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.
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?
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):
Figure 21 – Creative Practice Theory – General Model
Analysis: JT Velikovsky (2012)
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)
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.
- StoryAlity #100 – The Holonic Structure of the Meme – the unit of culture (2012)
- StoryAlity #101 – A Science of Memetic Culturology (2012)
And also see my chapter in the following collection of academic conference papers:
- 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)
`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).
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.
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?
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).
Source: The Lifecycle of Memes by Henrik Bjarneskans, Bjarne Grønnevik and Anders Sandberg: http://www.aleph.se/Trans/Cultural/Memetics/memecycle.html
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:
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 #115 – The `Less-Than-1%’ Problem in the Domain of Film
…Thoughts, Comments and Feedback, always most welcome.
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.’
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.’
(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)
If the above Java applet fails to load, perhaps see also the videos at:
- StoryAlity #43B – The `Creative Practice Theory’ online Agent-Based Model
- StoryAlity #43C – Creative Practice Theory – The Game
- StoryAlity #65 – The StoryAlity K-Film: Ep 1 (online i-doc – interactive documentary)
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
 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.)
 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)