Creative labour and its discontents: A reappraisal

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There is a tension at the heart of contemporary discussions of ‘creative’ labour. On the one hand, there is, in media, cultural and communication studies and neighbouring disciplines, a broadscale and growing critique of the ‘precarious’ conditions of labour in the creative sector. On the other, we find consistent evidence of the continued growth of the size of the Creative Industries as an industry sector and ‘creatives’ as a component of the workforce under conditions of the long- term ‘aestheticization’ or ‘culturalization’ of the economy (Lash and Urry 1994). These are ugly neologisms; nevertheless, they point to key structural changes in advanced post- industrial economies that tell a story of the mainstreaming of cultural and creative capability in contemporary work practices. I regard the tensions that arise from such contrasting perspectives on what are often agreed objects (for example, the growth of the creative workforce is usually not in contention) as reflective of the fact that matters of consequence are at issue, and productive of genuine advances in understanding. In this broad overview chapter, I will canvass the general thrust and findings of what has come to be seen as the ‘precarity’ perspec- tive, acknowledge that the early establishing rhetoric around the Creative Industries often bought into overly romantic accounts of creative labour, and engage with some of the complexity of measuring the creative work- force with a brief exposition of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation’s (CCI) Trident methodology (leaving more detail to subsequent chapters). One of the key findings of CCI’s research is that whole swathes of this workforce – the so- called embedded workforce and those rapidly growing parts of it sup- plying Creative Services to the rest of the economy – have rarely figured in the debate, on either the quantitative (statistical) or qualitative (types and conditions of work) side...
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCreative work beyond the creative industries: innovation, employment and education
EditorsGreg Hearn, Ruth Bridgstock, Ben Goldsmith, Jess Rodgers
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9781782545699
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


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