Social inertia and the field of creative labour


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13 Citations (Scopus)


While the emergent field of creative labour research provides a timely evidence-based reply to the hyperbole of the creative industries policy push, studies have remained speculative as to why so many people would seek careers in the creative sector. This article proposes that to adequately address this question requires a change in the scope of creative labour from ‘industries’ to ‘fields’. It briefly reviews cultural economic descriptions of artists’ labour markets, and suggests that Bourdieu’s notion of social inertia provides a plausible hypothesis concerning the social trajectories of those who are inclined to make a vocation of the cultural field. The article draws on a recent survey of student demand for university creative writing courses, identifying a cohort whose situation can be interpreted in terms of the social inertia effect. Such an approach shifts the focus of creative labour research from employment to ‘vocation’, and returns the notion of social status to the centre of explanation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-324
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Sociology
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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