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Situated Affect And Collective Meaning: A Community Perspective On Processes Of Value Creation And Commercialization In Enthusiast-driven Fields

Verena Brinks

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The concept of “communities of practice” enjoys great popularity in economic geography dealing with the question of how novelty comes into the world. However, while the role of communities in innovation processes is increasingly recognized, their function in terms of commercialization of generated new ideas remains a kind of blind spot in most existing studies. The article focuses on the transformation of “affects” into “interests” and “demands” and traces how meanings and values are produced out of affective situations experienced by geographically widely dispersed community participants. The paper connects empirical findings from three case studies of enthusiast-driven “communities of interest” (case modding, fingerboarding and geocaching) with a theoretically grounded perspective on practices of collective value creation. By following pragmatic approaches, the article presents three intertwining dimensions of valuation practices— sensemaking, sacralization and commodification—and illustrates how “markets” emerge out of communities' activities.