Creativity as an Adaptive Process in the Making of a Civic Parade Event in Manchester: An Ethnography

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis uses insight drawn from fieldwork among people developing a civic parade in Manchester over 2011-12 to analyse what happens in the translation of ideas into entities for display. It argues for creativity as an adaptive process, a responsive, dynamic activity manifested by parade makers, as they sought to realise the imagined event. It traces the roles that underpinned parade production and how people made sense and use of allocated responsibilities, while working within and through organisational boundaries.It situates the parade as an 'art object' (Gell 1998), constituted of assemblages at different scales (De Landa 2006), each embedded in a web of relationships to show how: a civic attempt to bring a public into being provides insight on the constituting organisational structures; the operational style of the arts organisation commissioned to produce the parade, led to imagining it into existence; and how two community groups responded to the parade parameters according to their own social dynamics.The thesis builds on ethnographic analyses of collaborative activities to consider how organisational shapes combine and how their constitutions substantially affect evolving entities. Situating creativity as an adaptive process separates creative activities from art practices by emphasising how supporting people to respond productively to changing circumstances encourages them to be creative.This thesis makes an original contribution to anthropology by showing through ethnography how creativity is a process, enacted through purposeful adaptation to circumstances in order to realise something tangible. It also encourages the development of a comparative framework for contemplating the extent to which different cultural contexts enable adaptive endeavours.
Date of Award1 Aug 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorSoumhya Venkatesan (Supervisor) & Rupert Cox (Supervisor)


  • festival
  • urban
  • parade
  • city
  • ethnography
  • Manchester
  • ideas
  • creativity
  • art

Cite this