1st Edition

Creative Labour Media Work in Three Cultural Industries

By David Hesmondhalgh, Sarah Baker Copyright 2011
    280 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    288 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    What is it like to work in the media? Are media jobs more ‘creative’ than those in other sectors? To answer these questions, this book explores the creative industries, using a combination of original research and a synthesis of existing studies.

    Through its close analysis of key issues - such as tensions between commerce and creativity, the conditions and experiences of workers, alienation, autonomy, self-realisation, emotional and affective labour, self-exploitation, and how possible it might be to produce ‘good work’ - Creative Labour makes a major contribution to our understanding of the media, of work, and of social and cultural change. In addition, the book undertakes an extensive exploration of the creative industries, spanning numerous sectors including television, music and journalism.

    This book provides a comprehensive and accessible account of life in the creative industries in the 21st century. It is a major piece of research and a valuable study aid for both undergraduate and postgraduate students of subjects including business and management studies, sociology of work, sociology of culture, and media and communications.

    1. Introduction: can creative labour be good work?  1.1 Good and bad work in the cultural industries  1.2 Creativity as doctrine  1.3 The critical backlash, the debate and our own approach   1.4 Definitions and boundaries  1.5 Research design: selection of industries and cases  1.6 Methods: interviews and participant observation  1.7 Outline of the book  Part 1  2. A model of good and bad work  2.1 Marx on work and alienation  2.2 A sociological concept of alienation  2.3 Towards a model of good and bad work beyond alienation  2.4 Good products as good work  2.5 Autonomy as a feature of good work?  2.5.1 Two accounts of workplace autonomy  2.6 Self-realisation as a feature of good work?  2.7 Post-structuralist critique of work and the problem of values  2.7.1 Good work: critique of a critique  2.8 Subjective experience  3. The specificity of creative labour  3.1 Outline of the chapter  3.2 Three approaches to cultural production  3.3 General neglect of labour in studies of cultural production and possible reasons  3.4 Political economy and the specificity of creative labour  3.5 Raymond Williams on the specificity of creative labour: The communication of experience  3.6 A critical conception of creative autonomy and its two variants  3.6.1 Variant 1: Aesthetic autonomy  3.6.2 Variant 2: Professional autonomy  3.7 Creative work and social class  3.8 Cultural studies on creative labour: Subjectivity and self-exploitation  3.9 The debate about creative work  Part 2  4. The management of autonomy, creativity and commerce  4.1 Creativity, commerce and organisations  4.2 The creative management function  4.3 Managing creative autonomy: Magazines  4.4 Managing creative autonomy: The case of music recording  4.5 Pressures of Autonomy (1): Marketisation in broadcasting  4.5.1 Television documentary and factual television  4.5.2 Television drama  4.6 Pressures on autonomy (2): The rising power of marketing  4.7 Anxieties about autonomy  4.8 Pressures on autonomy (3): The obligation to network  4.9 Conclusions  5. Pay, hours, security, involvement, esteem and freedom  5.1 Quality of working life in the cultural industries  5.2 Pay, working hours and unions  5.2.1 Pay  5.2.2 Working hours  5.2.3 Unions  5.3 Security and risk  5.4 Esteem and self-esteem  5.4.1 Self-doubt  5.4.2 Cool and glamorous  5.5 Challenge, interest and involvement  5.5.1 Pleasurable absorption  5.6 The experience of autonomy  5.7 Ambivalent experiences  6. Creative careers, self-realisation and sociality  6.1 Decline of the career?  6.2 Finding the right creative occupation  6.3 The fragility of creative careers  6.4 Defining yourself too much through creative work  6.5 Teamwork, socialising, networking  6.6 Isolation  6.7 Self-realisation and sociality: Ambivalent features of modern creative labour  7. Emotional and affective labour  7.1 Immaterial labour, affective labour and ‘precarity’  7.2 Emotional labour  7.3 Media labour and symbolic power  7.4 The talent show: Budget, commissioners and independents  7.5 Emotional labour and the anxieties of star-making  7.6 Pleasure and sociality on the production team  7.7 Affective labour and immanent co-operation?  7.8 Conclusions  8. Creative products, good and bad  8.1 Questions of quality  8.2 Pleasures and satisfactions of making good cultural products  8.3 Conceptions of good texts  8.4 Bad texts: Frustration and disappointment  8.5 Conceptions and explanations of poor quality work  8.6 Negative and positive experiences of quality  9. Audiences, quality and the meaning of creative work  9.1 Creative workers thinking about what audiences think  9.2 Magazines: is the reader everything  9.3 Music: a communicative thing or a private thing?  9.4 What can audiences handle?  9.5 Television and audience size: ratings tyranny?  9.6 Audiences, ambivalence and projection  10. The politics of good and bad work  10.1 The hardest way to make an easy living?  10.2 Unions and the struggle for good creative work  10.3 Work and life: choosing not to self-exploit?  10.4 Spreading good and bad work: how intractable is the social division of labour?  Bibliography  Appendix: The Interviews


    David Hesmondhalgh teaches in the Institute of Communications Studies at the University of Leeds, where he is Professor of Media and Music Industries, Director of Research, and Head of the Media Industries Research Centre (MIRC). His publications include The Cultural Industries (2nd edition, 2007).

    Sarah Baker is Lecturer in Cultural Sociology at Griffith University, Australia. She has previously held research fellowships at The Open University and University of Leeds, UK, and the University of South Australia. She is the author of numerous refereed journal articles and book chapters.

    ‘A major new study of creative labour. This is an important book that will become a classic in the field. Required reading for anyone interested in the nature, experience and quality of work in the media and cultural industries.’Rosalind Gill, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, King’s College London, UK

    'This will be a model for others to emulate, in its clarity of thought and expression, thoroughness of analysis, and respect for the particularities of the lives it explores. I can only hope that it receives ample flattery of imitation by inspiring others to follow in its footsteps.’Larry Gross, Professor and Director, The Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California

    'Anyone interested in the so-called creative or cultural industries will find this book essential reading.'Peter Golding, Professor and Pro-Vice Chancellor, Northumbria University, UK

    ‘Hesmondhalgh and Baker’s thorough and intelligent analysis of the nature and experience of work in television, magazine publishing and music, draws-out the characteristic features and the ambiguities of work inherent in these segments of the economy. Their close examination of the meaning of "good" and "bad" work takes the discussion onto another plane and makes the book of wide contemporary relevance across the economy as a whole.’John Storey, Professor of Human Resource Management at The Open University Business School, UK

    "The power of this text rests largely on the authors’ decision to situate their rich, multimethod empirical research within a detailed and interdisciplinary framework of contested theoretical analyses… A detailed, insightful and stimulating analysis of experiences of creative labour in the cultural industries." – Work, Employment and Society

    "Hesmondhalgh and Baker have produced a fascinating book that is greater than the sum of the parts. They socialise subjective experience. This creative transmutation of social theory and empirical evidence sets a high standard for further research."Media, Culture and Society

    "Through a thorough reading of the most authoritative philosophical and sociological literature on work, the authors convincingly establish the criteria of what is generally held as being "good work"… [T]he use of "emotional labour" – a concept that has gained a lot of currency in management and organization studies – is a brilliant demonstration of the authors’ capacity to borrow from different fields in meaningful ways."Cultural Trends

    "This is a valuable book in the way it successfully synthesizes theory and experience. Its final stance is one of social justice: not to understand creative labour in the service of creative industries boosterism, but its consideration of the distribution of good and bad work across societies."International Journal of Cultural Policy

    "Creative Labour represents, in many ways, the culmination of a number of theoretical and empirical investigations of cultural work….[It] is ambitious in scope and depth, rewarding the careful reader with a dazzling range of accounts of the daily working lives of ‘creatives’."Cultural Sociology

    "Hesmondhalgh and Baker analyse the quality of workers’ experiences in jobs in … the‘cultural industries’…. This emphasis on quality of work … make[s] the book an especially compelling contribution to the field"Cultural Studies Review

    "Though the authors’ sympathy clearly lies with the critical stance of cultural studies, the book is a worthy addition to scholarship on cultural sociology and the sociology of work."Contemporary Sociology

    "[A]n insightful contribution that effectively advances understanding of the experience of working in knowledge economy jobs".Work and Occupations