Northwestern University School of Communication presents

Lambert Family Conference 2016

Inventing the New: Innovation in Creative Enterprises
April 8-9, 2016

About the Conference


Where and how does innovation happen? Who are the key actors that translate what has been done before into something different? And what is the role of face-to-face interaction, of conventions and of organizations in allowing (or blocking) for creativity to flourish? What is the role of networks in producing the diffusion of innovative cultural products and practices? Are there any particular social locations that favor the production of innovative cultural forms? Is it better to be in the core or in the periphery of a field? And what are the elements that have to be in place for inventive uses to develop? What are the new ways of doing that result from the destabilization of existing patterns thanks to technological disruption? And what is the relationship between copying and making something anew? Who are the actors benefited and which are the ones who suffer when innovation happens?

Over the last decade or so scholars of communication, sociology, anthropology and science studies have developed parallel lines of study that have explored the role of networks, actors, interaction, organizations and technology in fostering innovation in creative enterprises, but have nevertheless been less interested in engaging in conversation with one another. This event aims to foster fruitful interdisciplinary conversations about the emergence, evolution, and social and political impact of innovation in the creative sector. To this end, it will bring together scholars at various stages of career development and from various disciplinary backgrounds--from communication and sociology to management and anthropology. Moreover, these scholars will draw upon a spectrum of theoretical and methodological resources and focus on a wide array of objects of study.

The Inventing the New conference will draw on Northwestern’s intellectual resources to address these questions through agenda-setting presentations by top scholars.

This conference is sponsored by Northwestern University's School of Communication.




This year's conference will take place on April 8-9, 2016 in the Allen Center building, Room #164 at Northwestern University (map).

Register for the conference by completing this application form.


Located on Chicago’s North Shore, Northwestern’s main campus is easily accessible.

Interactive campus map
Static Evanston map
Driving directions to the Evanston campus

Getting Around

You can easily get around our campus, whether you are driving, taking public transit, or using our campus shuttles.

Campus shuttles
Public transit
Parking on campus

The conference organizers have a limited number of parking passes available for attendees, you can sign up for one on the registration form.


Two major airports serve the Chicagoland area, O’Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport. View directions and transportation options from both airports.

Where to Stay

Here are some resources for area lodging.

Friday April 8

6:00-7:30 PM
Opening Plenary
Introductory remarks: Claudio E. Benzecry and Ellen Wartella (Communication Studies, Northwestern University)
Keynote speaker: Pierre-Michel Menger (College de France)
Respondent: Andrew Abbott (Sociology, University of Chicago)

Followed by a reception open to the public

Saturday April 9

8:30-9:00 AM

Breakfast and registration

9:00-9:15 AM

Introductory remarks
Claudio E. Benzecry and Pablo J. Boczkowski (Communication Studies, Northwestern University)

9:15-11:00 AM
Panel I: What’s New?
Chair and Discussant: Robert Hariman (Communication Studies, Northwestern University)

Fred Turner (Communication, Stanford University)
Millenarian Tinkering: Or, Why is Everyone Making?

Amanda Lotz, (Communication Studies, University of Michigan –Ann Arbor)
Rethinking Television: Broadband-Distributed Portals and the Logics of a “Subscription Model”

T.L. Taylor (Comparative Media Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Playing, and working, at home: The rise of game live-streaming and the variety caster

Alex Fattal (Film and Video Studies, Pennylvania State University)
Brand Warfare and the Demobilization of FARC Rebels in Colombia

11:00-11:15 AM

Coffee Break

11:15-12:45 PM

Panel II: Geographies and Scales of Innovation
Chair and Discussant: Gary Fine (Sociology, Northwestern University)

Larissa Buchholz (Society of Fellows, Harvard University)
Tracking Global Trajectories of Cultural Valuation: The Case of Gabriel Orozco

Jonathan R. Wynn (Sociology, University of Massachusetts –Amherst)
Show, Scene and Space: Musicians, Opportunity Structures, and Geographies of Genre

Mukti Kahire (Entrepreneurial Management, Harvard Business School)
Building Indiewood in a Hollywood World: The Role of Intermediaries in Creating Market Categories

12:45-2:00 PM

Lunch Break

2:00-3:30 PM

Panel III: Communities of Innovation
Chair and Discussant: Laura Pedraza-Fariña (Law, Northwestern University)

Jessica Silbey (Law, Northeastern University)
“Fairer Uses”in a Qualitative Study of Borrowing Practices Among Everyday Creators and Innovators

Vanina Leschziner (Sociology, University of Toronto)
Innovation and its Discontents. Some Insights from the Kitchen

Balazs Vedres (Sociology and Center for Network Science, Central European University)
Fold Networks in Creative Explosions

3:30-3:45 PM

Coffee Break

3:45-5:15 PM

Panel IV: Materials for the New / New Materials
Chair and discussant: Pablo J. Boczkowski (Communication Studies, Northwestern University)

Fernando Domínguez Rubio (Communication Studies, University of California at San Diego)
Digital Objects as Partial Possessions: Creativity, Authenticity and Property in the Case of Digital Art

Sonia Coman (Art History, Columbia University)
Innovation in 1867 Paris: How the Production and Reception of Japanese-Style Ceramics Spurred the Emergence of Modernism

Joseph Klett (Sociology, University of California at Santa Cruz)
Like Prescription Sunglasses: Radical subjectivity and the Moral Innovation of Personalized Audio

5:15-5:30 PM

Closing Remarks

6:30-9:00 PM

Dinner at Found Kitchen for Speakers and Selected Guests

Contact the Organizers

Have questions? Get in touch with the conference organizers, Claudio E. Benzecry & Pablo J. Boczkowski by email.