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Studying the aesthetic experience and sensible dimensions of change in CCTPs through art-design based methods

Interactions appear to be central in CCTP, as evidenced by the definition of a third-place (Oldenburg & Brissett, 1982), where interaction is at the heart of observed practices. Though change in CCTP is an exponential phenomenon, existing studies do not analyze the role of emotions, aesthetics and other sensible dimensions. One of the main issues about the comprehension of “cultures of work” in new spaces is the importance of emotions (Kunda,1991) and the aesthetic experience. Emotions are not mental states or irrational acts, but collective gathering (Katz, 1999). Emotions link individual trajectories and collective organization. In order to understand the social dynamics of CCTP and their possibilities and potentialities, we need to focus on the emotional dimension of creative work, as the way to catch the sensitive dimension, in its affective but also political aspects (Rancière, 2010). Similarly, in the production of space, Lefebvre (1991), insists on how the body defines space, emphasizing the spatial practice rather than the reification of the body, in this sense space is not a mere receptacle of activities but instead needs to be considered as social process. In this construction, the aesthetic experience is central but abundant research in TP hasn’t studied this dimension. Strati’s classification (Strati, 1999) proposes eight categories for analyzing aesthetics in organizational spaces: sacred, picturesque, tragic, ugly, rhythmic, comic, pathos and grace. Yanow (2005) proposes another classification, which focuses more on design understood through four dimensions: vocabulary, gestures, proximity and decor.

The gap: Though the emergence of third places is an exponential phenomenon, existing research in social sciences has not followed with the study of these forms of work and organizations over time. It seems necessary to develop a critical reading of the notion of TP in the prism of recent work mutations. Existing research has contributed to define the characteristics of those places but it has not developed to combine the temporal, emotional and aesthetics dimensions. Existing studies do not question the material dimension and the notion of place, crucial as it is a platform through which community identity and belonging are articulated (Kavaratzis and Kalandides 2015). For Ingold (2013), research should know from the inside as knowledge comes from thinking with, from and through beings and things, not only about them. In a meta-analysis about third spaces, Scaillerez, & Tremblay (2017) argue for the need to develop a critical reading of the notion of TP in the prism of work mutations and the use of multidisciplinary methods to capture the sensible dimensions of these places. Based on the previous review, we raise the following questions:

How do creative workers in CCTP manage tensions arising from changes in the environment?
How do the aesthetic experience and emotions reflect changes in CCTP?

Methodology: A mixed methodology and a multidisciplinary team to produce multifaceted knowledge

In order to tackle these issues, we will develop a mix-methodology combining strategies used in longitudinal  qualitative case studies of change (Langley, 2017; Yin, 2003) and art-design based methods (Bakhtin, 1981; Strati, 2000, Barry, Meiseik, 2010; Hatch, 2002; Guillet de Monthoux,2007, Schmidt et al., 2015, ABRIR, 2012). The idea of using different methods and building a multidisciplinary team is to produce multifaceted knowledge and thus to explore the visible and invisible dimensions of work transformations in CCTP. The strength and originality of this approach applied to research in CCTP is to show on one hand, how individual actors bring about change through everyday micro-actions which may seem “unimportant” ,“trivial” at the time (Panayiotou et al., 2019) and on the other hand to show how the subjective experience of creative workers constructs meaning and forms the space. Artworks are useful in terms of ethnographic investigation, presentational knowing (Seeley, 2011), to grasp emotions in management (Keremane McKay, 2011).  Art enables to keep tracks of invisible, subtle, ephemeral signals, giving the researcher access to more complex and hidden dimensions of phenomena (Berthoin, 2012; Strati, 2000; Barry and Meisiek 2007; ABRIR, 2012). Design methods support the need to produce a set of intermediate objects (Vinck, 2009) and sensitive tools, that renew and enrich the methodological protocol.

Target places: The corpus of the research is based on five CCTP located in the Grand Paris and Normandie regions. The criteria for choosing the places are the activity, the age and feasibility of carrying the research over time. La Station-Gare de Mines (Aubervilliers) /Le 6B, (Saint Denis)/Les Grands Voisins (Paris), Le Data (Rouen), Fort de Tourneville (Le Havre).

Target Population: resident artists, creative workers and users/visitors.

Data collection: Art forms and artifacts are essential to the research process. Thus, videos, photographs, drawings and dialogical tools will be produced by the research coordinator and her team at different stages. Researchers will be assigned in teams to collect data. Our methodology is to look at aesthetic issues, to capture the felt experience, the affect, and something of the tacit knowledge of day-to-day, moment-to-moment reality of CCTP. Not just the cleaned-up, instrumental concerns of “the business”, but the messy, unordered side as well.” (Taylor and Hansen 2005: 1224). Individual and collective interviews and observations will also be carried per case.

Data analysis: The analysis will be carried in two steps: in groups per case and collectively. To ensure cross-case analysis the ABCD (art-based-collective and dialogical method) will be used.

Dissemination:  Our strategy to disseminate results is key. This is reflected by the creation of a team dedicated to this. The objective is to address the scientific communities and non-specialist spectators, the citizens, the policy makers and to find “alternative spaces” to disseminate research. Results will be disseminated through inventive and unconventional means, producing objects between art-design & research and applying the Dysfunction methodology (2017). Spreading knowledge about work mutations and questioning existing policies and practices will be reached by building up three types of material.