They Did IT The Formation and Organisation of Interactive Media Production in Sweden
Abstract: The overall aim of the study is to describe and explain the formation and organisation of interactive media production in Sweden from the 1990s to the end of 2003, the period of the so-called IT boom and crash, through the development of a theoretical model and gathering of empirical material.In the theory, interactive media production is conceptualised as a practice in part taking place on a social field structured according to the division and integration of labour within and between firms, and logics and status. It is argued that social fields are formed through the entrepreneurial realisation of opportunity structures resting in pre-existing structural configurations, and through the allocation of resources. The organisational outcome is explained by the structural preconditions, aspects of formation (what, who, how) and firms’ demands for stability and flexibility, creating a set of interrelated positions that firms might occupy.Empirical data has been collected from four firm and one individual level survey aimed at interactive media producers in Sweden, conducted between 1997 and 2003. A second data source consists of 8,000 news articles and items focussed on IT and interactive media in Sweden. Third, visual analyses of web sites of firms producing interactive media solutions have been conducted. Finally, interviews with people active within the field have been made.The results show that the formation of interactive media production in Sweden should be understood in relation to the Swedish economic crisis of the early 1990s, visions of IT, and beliefs in a societal transition to a new economy and knowledge society. These ideas contributed to allocating massive resources, e.g. state initiatives, increased demands and investment capital, to those producers of interactive media solutions that came to be symbols of the new economy. The abundance of resources caused a rapid growth of firms engaged in interactive media production and a financialisation that led to a speculative bubble and a stock market crash, eventually making the social field dissolve.The majority of firms that produce interactive media solutions are small and reach flexibility and stability by having a large proportion of permanently employed skilled workers and extensively participating in collaborations with other firms, including customers. The division and integration of labour follows the logics and clusters of activities that structure the social field: techno¬logy, aesthetics and economy. A large proportion of Swedish organisations have further developed inhouse interactive media operations that taken together are larger than the more visible so-called Internet consultants.
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