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Liminality, aesthetics and subjectivity in Event Management studies

Liminality, aesthetics and subjectivity in Event Management studies

Vlachos, Peter ORCID: 0000-0002-4870-9006 (2019) Liminality, aesthetics and subjectivity in Event Management studies. In: Lamond, I. and Moss, J., (eds.) Exploring Liminality in Critical Event Studies: Boundaries, Borders and Contestation in the Study and Analysis of Events. Palgrave. (In Press)

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Over the past two decades, event studies have emerged both as a taught academic discipline and as a field of inquiry and publication. In the United Kingdom, however, the topic of event studies has largely been subsumed within faculties of business in universities, as ‘events management’.

The purpose of this chapter is to review and assess the ways in which the concept of ‘liminality’ informs and relates to the study and teaching of events management within higher education. The first part of the chapter reflects conceptually on the aesthetic and subjective aspects of the events experience. Here we unpack tensions between the intrinsic, sensual and at times even Bacchanalian experience of events as social phenomena, and instrumental, rational management of these same events. Turner’s (1974) notions of liminal time and liminoid spaces are examined through the lenses of subjective place experience (Tuan, 1977; Lefebvre, 2004). Debord’s (1955) theories on psychogeographic experience and Aristotle’s ‘Poetics’ (logos, pathos, ethos) are used to illustrate the aesthetic and subjective dimensions that are constrained by the dominant discourse of the ‘experience economy’ (Pine and Gilmore 1998; 1999).

Secondly, the author constructs the argument that the localisation of event studies in particular educational parameters within higher education institutions has resulted in an over-emphasis on managerial functions at the expense of the more creative and subjective elements relevant to liminality such as the design function. The teaching and research of the aesthetic and design elements of live events have been either been abandoned to art and design faculties (who themselves appear to have little interest in expanding into the events discipline) or are treated as a self-teachable or easily out-sourced, despite their centrality to the liminal power of the event. To illustrate the current condition, the chapter presents a categorisation of higher education academic literature (textbooks) drawn from English speaking countries, mainly from the United Kingdom, and from the USA, Canada, and Australia. Foucault’s (2002) theories on the archaeology of knowledge are used to underpin the analysis.

The chapter argues that due to this trajectory in the development of events management, as an academic discipline and field of research inquiry, unhelpful teaching and research silos have emerged that have prevented knowledge between events management specialists in business faculties being shared with academic researchers in other faculties (e.g. arts, social sciences, geography, or urban development). The chapter concludes with a call for a more unified, multi-disciplinary, and subjectivist approach to the field of event studies.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: spectacle, liminality, live events, liminoid, rites of passage
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Department of Marketing, Events & Tourism
Last Modified: 28 May 2019 13:41
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: GREAT 1

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