Fashion and Intellectual Property Law; Applying a Bourdieusian Theoretical Framework

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Abstract

This research explores the significance of intellectual property to the commercialisation of cultural production in the fashion industry. One of the most active voices on cultural production in contemporary society is associated with the writings of Pierre Bourdieu, and his studies on the emergence and reproduction of consumer culture. Bourdieu’s work on cultural production has been particularly popular in sociological and cultural studies scholarship, but has not yet generated as much interest in the field of intellectual property scholarship. This paper addresses the major reasons why his sociological apparatus is fertile for the study of intellectual property law. In IP scholarship economics has been the main theoretical framework for analysing and understanding IP’s significance to the production of cultural goods, but scholarship on IP for creators is limited in terms of empirical methods, or drawing on theoretical frameworks outside economics that can help develop our understanding of fields of cultural production. The general purpose of this paper is to offer an alternative approach to the study of intellectual property law in creative fields. Applied to intellectual property law or to any other topic, Bourdieu’s virtuoso is a way of ‘thinking’ and ‘questioning’ the social world that combines theoretical frameworks with empirical fieldwork. This paper maps out the way I use two of his main concepts "capital" and “field” in order to conduct legal research on creators in the cultural industry of fashion. Much of the existing literature on intellectual properties operation for the fashion industry functions without providing a clear empirical link to theoretical concepts. I aim to show how the use of Bourdieu’s theoretical framework helps remedy this, and argue that it is beneficial for intellectual property specialists to read and use Bourdieu because his sociology on fields of cultural production, can help “broaden the methodological tools available for analysing intellectual property policy.”
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Socio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference at University of Newcastle
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2017

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