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Handmade 2.0: Women, DIY Networks and the Cultural Economy of Craft


Handmade 2.0: Women, DIY Networks and the Cultural Economy of Craft

Wallace, Jacqueline (2014) Handmade 2.0: Women, DIY Networks and the Cultural Economy of Craft. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Handmade 2.0: Women, DIY Networks and the Cultural Economy of Craft

Jacqueline Wallace, PhD
Concordia University, 2014

This dissertation is a feminist ethnography of the contemporary craft scene in North America. It examines do-it-yourself (DIY) networks of indie crafts as a significant cultural economy and site of women’s creative labour, moving beyond existing research, which has historically focused on craft as primarily associated with women’s domestic activity, or as a salon refusé subordinated to the fine arts, or affiliations with turn of the 20th century industrialization. Rather, my research focuses on contemporary craft work as a field of women’s cultural production, informal networks and entrepreneurship—a highly contemporary cultural and economic phenomenon buoyed by the rise of the so-called creative class, a DIY ethic and a broader conception of craftwork as “Handmade 2.0,” underscoring the role of digital media and networked communications in the modern craft economy. By contrasting the global ecommerce marketplace, Etsy, and the work of independent crafters, it offers a significant contribution to emergent debates at the intersections of the gendered workplace, flexible labour and (corporatized) cultural production. Specifically, this research makes three key interventions: a reconceptu-alization and cultural analysis of DIY craft as a Bourdieuian-influenced field of gendered cultural production; a case study and critique of Etsy as a corporatized model and significant marker of social class and distinction; and a feminist cultural analysis of crafty women’s making, connecting, and the precarity of their feminized labours.

The research findings underscore the contemporary importance of gendered, informally networked cultural production that must constantly interface with other more entrenched institutions, while also exposing the vast personal and professional networks that female makers as individual entrepreneurs must incessantly nurture to earn esteemed social and cultural capital—both on- and offline. These dynamics require crafty women to play multiple roles in the circuit of culture, and most often for paltry wages and at significant emotional cost. By way of a critical feminist analysis, it concludes that today’s indie craft represents a complex and dynamic web of tensions, discourses and contradictions as women negotiate the material and emotional labours of their multiple identities and investments in the ‘always on’ work/lifestyle environment of the digital age. Finally, by calling for the continued vigilance of feminist inquiry and policy and advocacy work, I suggest pathways for future research as new technologies, social media and economic models continue to evolve and affect this growing sector of flexible forms of women’s creative work existing outside conventional employment structures and social protections.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Communication Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Wallace, Jacqueline
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Date:11 June 2014
Thesis Supervisor(s):Soar, Matt
Keywords:craft, DIY, cultural economy, micro-entrepreneurship, Etsy
ID Code:978912
Deposited On:12 Nov 2014 15:18
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:47
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