Control “of” the Field and “by” the Field

As discussed above, actors immersed in the field tend to exercise some degree of control over it. In this process, some actors use this control to find allies and accomplish their goals. Thus far I have shown that, in the independent comics production field, this control may be verified by the differential capacity of creators in gathering resources. I also show that the field has solidary support, an example of external mechanisms that influence the capacity of actors in fulfilling their goals. However, beyond this, it is assumed that mechanisms of status and artistic style are also significant. Creators must extract resources from supporters who show high participation in the field (with more centrality) by either mobilizing their recognition or associating with other known actors, thus reaching great supporters. To present a better understanding of the process of control of the field over creators, an analysis of the network for a particular group of projects follows. This node can be represented by a one-node network composed of 80 projects and valued relations that represent the number of common backers.

Those in a better position to control the field are recognized as actors. They are less affected by the solidary support mechanism and can share their backers with other creators of a similar status. The relationships between these actors are relevant because creators can exploit them for more productive outcomes and opportunities in the field. By analyzing the islands of actors in the projects’ networks, I find islands that have a minimum of 2 actors and a maximum of 18. This way, smaller subgroups were located among the 80 projects that indicate the existence of a core or several cores in the creator’s network.

Figure 17.1 shows the islands found. There are two subgroups: one with 18 actors and the other with two. These are subgroups that share more backers among themselves than with other projects. When analyzing the larger island, the core of the field, there is evidence that reinforces the supposition that control of the field is exerted by actors who are least exposed to the effect of solidary support. The identified core is formed by all six projects that are among the top ranked for attractiveness (black circles); the only exception that does not share ties with all the components of this subgroup is the Ryotiras Omnibus project.

Islands of the one-node network of project affiliations (only great supporters)

Fig. 17.1. Islands of the one-node network of project affiliations (only great supporters)

Beyond these projects, 10 other projects suffer negative effects from the solidary support mechanism (double-banded black and gray circles). As shown, these projects are more prone to control by the field; however, they find themselves in more favorable positions to exercise control over the field, either in their independence from external support or their relationships with more attractive and higher status actors. The other two actors include one that does not suffer the interference of the solidary support mechanism (white circles), while the other suffers a smaller interference from this type of support (double-banded white circles).

The evidence presented here shows that project performance depends on a creator’s recognition, past projects (with good performance), and captured resources that circulate in the field, as well as the creator’s ability to not be exclusively dependent on support from backers outside the field. Besides, the common supporters in this core represent readers that are immersed in the field and are thus more responsible for the control exercised by the field.

Island analysis is applied to supporters of the affiliation network comprising great supporters. In considering subgroups with a minimum of 2 actors and a maximum of 18, there was a single core of 16 actors in

Island of the one-node network of great supporters

Fig. 17.2. Island of the one-node network of great supporters

the network that shared at least 20 projects.8 These were actors who were more immersed in the field. Figure 17.2 shows this subgroup and its members’ relationships; the intensity of these relationships shows the number of projects that both actors backed. This figure presents the prominent activity of the most central actor, Leandro Andrade Ribeiro, who maintains strong relationships in the field. This actor directly connects with the strongest actors in this subgroup and the other seven actors on the island.

When analyzing the data, it must be observed that the most central actors who support comic book production through crowdfunding are either unknown in the field (with few exceptions), or they are actors with a high degree of field recognition. To obtain information about supporters, I employed field knowledge and data from online social networks such as Facebook. Of these actors, only two possessed a high degree of field recognition: Marcelo Naranjo and Ivan Freitas da Costa. Marcelo Naranjo is the correspondent for a prominent informational website for comics (Universo HQ), and Ivan Freitas da Costa is a curator of large- scale comic book events in Brazil (Festival Internacional de Quadrinhos). The remainder appeared, on the basis of their activities and relationships on online social networking sites, to be simple consumers of comics.

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