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This post is provided by Konstantin Hondros, post-doctoral researcher at University of Duisburg-Essen in the DFG-funded research project “Organizing Creativity under Regulatory Uncertainty: Alternative Approaches to Intellectual Property”.

Though “alternative” (both as an adjective and a noun) has widespread meaning in contemporary society, it is not generally clear, what constitutes and conveys something to be (an) “alternative”. This blogpost’s goal is to offer a more nuanced understanding of the concept and ask how this can guide the use of “alternative” as an analytical lens. To begin with, I give an etymological account, then I look at “alternatives” in philosophy and its significance for epistemology, finally, I describe how social sciences make use of “alternative” in an evaluative manner. While from a philosophical perspective, “alternative” is rather a logical operator, in the social sciences “alternative” evaluates institutions, practices, or beliefs. This evaluative use can be either positive and empowering, ambivalent and skeptical, or even negative and destabilizing. I argue that it is this umbrella-term’s multi-facetted and evaluative nature that makes it analytically fruitful for social sciences.

I thus develop the concept of alternative mainly for practical reasons. Our recently kicked-off DFG-funded project Organizing Creativity under Regulatory Uncertainty: Alternative Approaches to Intellectual Property pursues “alternatives” empirically. We take a closer look at how creative processes unfold when intellectual property (IP) is approached “alternatively” and what obstacles and uncertainties these processes encounter. We compare alternatives to the IP-regulations copyright and patent law with case studies from the music economy and the pharmaceutical industries. Differentiating “ alternatives” will inform our methodological and analytical proceeding as it will give as clearer picture of what we are actually dealing with empirically.

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Cover “Music Practices Across Borders”

Connecting migration studies and the theory of valuation, the collection edited by Glaucia Peres da Silva and Konstantin Hondros (both from University of Duisburg-Essen) offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of transnational music practices. Conceiving music as a practice not confined to audibility, the interdisciplinary contributions reveal how music emerges in concrete situations through people, objects, techniques, meanings, and emotions in different parts of the world and during different historic periods. Values are thereby created and shared, and creative processes are evaluated in terms of diversity, space and exchange.

The book presents cases of contemporary, popular and traditional music, festivals and trade fairs, albums and band projects, shedding light on the tensions between the transfer, reconstruction and creation of music in different contexts. Since the editors were able to publish the anthology open access – thanks to the university library of the University Duisburg-Essen – the book “Music practices across borders” as a full-text PDF.

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
September 2021
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All texts on governance across borders are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany License.