The Cultural Industries
Workaround: In current version of Panels 3.8, it seems this body field needs to be populated in order for title above to appear. This note is hidden by custom CSS style. Jack Latimer.
‘The Renaissance view of work, which sees it as intrinsically meaningful, is centred in the technical craftsmanship – the manual and mental operations – of the work process itself’ (C. Wright Mills, White Collar, 1951)
Has the Renaissance returned? If we are to believe the advocates and enthusiasts of what is variously termed the ‘creative’ (or ‘cultural’) industries, the ‘knowledge and innovation economy’, the ‘post-hierarchical’, ‘de-traditionalised’ workplace, or the ‘digital revolution’ then it would appear so. The work of the present and near future appears to have taken the best (imagined) elements of the work of the past (the embedded materiality and meaningfulness) but transcended some of its more adverse or ruinous elements (the grinding tedium, immobility and alienation). Work is what we make of it – and is central to the fulfilment our free lives. But is this so? And to what extent have emergent kinds of ‘creative’ work made us free from the shackles of the past?
This project reflects on the organisation and practices of work in the cultural and creative industries. In line with CRESC thinking it asks; what patterns of continuity and change are discernible in cultural and creative work? Such a question arises in the wake of a recession that that challenges the status of creative industries as exemplars of post-industrial work, and invites reconsideration of the role of culture and creativity in future (and past) economic organization. To what extent should cultural work be theorised as both a historical and continuous practice, or as an emergent form of labour indicative of some putatively ‘new’ (and, now, post-recession) cultural, economic and social arrangements? In particular, in this research we address how forms of ‘cultural work’ (labour most strongly associated with media, arts, informational and entertainment-based industries) that suggest a coming to prominence of more socially-integrated (and personally-liberating) ‘creative’ or ‘innovation’ led activity, also appears to remain strongly vested with traditional social relations. Thus, as well as reliant on the unstable promise of futurity, the accelerated creation and colonisation of a variety of real/virtual social and spatial environments, and the expanded use of ‘co-creative’ and ‘free’ labour based on the extension of work and careers into (hitherto) discrete social domains, cultural work can offer experiences somewhat less revolutionary or transformative. Yet, it may also be evident that changing patterns of cultural work are leading us into some new and uncharted waters, where the temporal and spatial domains of work significantly break with previous arrangements. The aim of the project is to move beyond static, place-bound and a-historical readings of the cultural and creative industries by investigating the ways in which forms of cultural work are embedded historically and socially, and/or illustrative of some putatively new or progressive social relations of work. We adopt a global perspective, utilising a range of theoretical resources and supporting case studies to provide an analysis of both local and internationally inter-linked cultural/creative labour processes as they unfold across different territories and environments.
Researchers on the project have recently been looking at autonomy and freedom in cultural work, ‘identity work’ amongst art graduates, the cultural economy of Black British Jazz and craft labour and creative industries. Recent activity has included The Future of Cultural Work, a conference held at the OU London office in June 2010, an expert roundtable on Inequalities in Creative and Cultural Industries (King’s College July 2010) and plans for a forthcoming edited collection Theorizing Cultural Work.