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Pros and Cons of Creative Labour

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 2946 words Published: 12th Oct 2017

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Assignment question: Critically evaluate the concept of creative labour. Is it good or bad for workers and society?

For the last 20-30 years the information, communication technology, media and services and industries have become the most essential and demanded things in the modern world. They bring people new opportunities, which can simplify people’s needs and wants. I believe this Charles Landry claimed : suggests “that the developments made are essentially cultural as they reflect the way people perceive their problems and opportunities” (Charles Landry). The important point here is that these technologies and services designed and developed by humanity, are what we now call the ‘creative labour’ market. “Creativity is essential to the way we live and work today, and in many senses always has been” (Florida, 2002 p. 21). The purpose of this essay is to critically evaluate the concept of creative labour in order to answer the question: “Is it good or bad for workers and society in our world”.

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Debate continues as to what creativity is exactly, what it means to be creative and how this fits into society and the wider economic environment. John Hawkins (2002) claimed that the best way to define creativity as ‘having a new idea’; he argued that our society needs information. He also advocated that we need to be active, clever, and persistent in challenging this information. In his words, “there is a need to be original, sceptical, argumentative, often bloody-minded and occasionally downright negative – all these things make us creative. However, it leads us to the question: “where does this creativity take place?” It is possible to say that creativity is produced by creative industries and it would be the right answer, but in our society, creativity can take place anywhere”. As Hawkins (2002) said, “creativity is where the brain works in the determining motive”. The psychologist Dean Keith Simonton argued that creativity is favoured by an intellect that has been enriched with diverse experiences and perspectives. Creativity is associated with a mind that exhibits a variety of interests and knowledge (Florida, 2002 p. 33). Peter Drucker said that “knowledge” and “information” are the tools and materials of creativity (Florida, 2002 p.44). Because of the ideological freight of its specific features, creative work heightens and denaturalises normal principles of work. In creative work’s marginal context, normal principles of work seem to contradict broader social values. (Theorising Cultural Work, 2013 p.74) To conclude this point, creativity is where thoughts are not ordinary, aesthetic, individual, smart and clever. A creative person innovates, produces, provides and develops new ideas and concepts. Creativity covers social, cultural and economic areas.

The creative-labour market is crucial for workers. A creative worker is someone that communicates with society. The creative worker innovates, creates and develops for people; they focus on production. Raymond Williams claimed that creative workers are different from other workers, “The creative worker makes the communication of experience their central work in life – the artist’s work is the actual work of transmission and uses learned skills to transmit that experience”. “Creativity involves distinct kinds of thinking and habits that must be cultivated both in the individual and in the surrounding society” (Florida, 2002 p.21). Creative industry workers are organised and mobilised so time constraints such as normal office hours and workspaces are not set in stone. Creative workers are very influential, they form the core of the economy: science, engineering, architecture and design, education, arts, music and entertainment – even finance, law and healthcare. The creative class generates wealth and happiness – local government should develop policies to cultivate them (Florida, 2002). The creative process is social, not just individual, and thus forms of organisation are necessary (Florida, 2002). Creative work is a cooperative and independent model of production. Creative labour is power to people, where a person can take control over things they are going to create and choose how they relate to the world around them. Creativity breeds freedom, autonomy and choice, aspects which make the employee feel empowered, comfortable and in control. Free agents, so the argument goes, are able to break free from the stranglehold of large organisations and take control of their lives. (Florida, 2002 p.28). Another huge benefit for creative workers are good working condition, you can work not only at an office, but you could be in a film or radio studio, atelier, at home or even travelling across the world.

Being creative is in itself a challenge, dependent upon many factors including interest and involvement from society. One example of the challenges could be an interview taken from Creative Labour. Media work in three cultural industries, told by

faced is below – a documentary producer, Malcolm who shares his experience of working in the creative industries:

“I have had an amazing life. I have watched democracy come to Argentina, witnessed the most violent riots they had in country for 50 years. I was there when the gate of Gaza were opened. I’ve been attacked by the KGB. I’ve filmed with the Contras in Nicaragua, all kinds of places and amazing experiences from plane[WU1] crashes to sharing terrible tragic moments to moments of great elation. I have seen so much of the world and I have been paid to do that. So it has been a very intense life with great experiences and I am glad I had it. (Interview 37 p. 128 “Creative Labour. Media work in three cultural industries)

The Malcolm interview explains that the experience and skills the workers earn in creative labour area cannot be found or reproduced, or recreated in other areas, but moments in history can be captured by individuals and reflected back to a wider audience. This not only provides opportunities to be a witness of history in the making but also be part of this history. To conclude, the issue of creative work is complex and contradictory – a mixture of autonomy, glamour and exploitation, inequality and precarious conditions.

Media companies operating in fields as diverse and interconnected as public relations, marketing, advertising[WU2] and journalism have traditionally been considered cultural industries, representing those companies and professions primarily responsible for the industrial production and circulation of culture. (Hesmondhalgh, 2002 p. 163) In the ongoing academic debate on the definition of culture (or cultural) industries, media production tends to be emphasised as particular to the field of action of the companies and corporations involved. In recent years, policy makers, industry observers and scholars alike have reconceptualised media work as taking place within a broader context of creative industries. The term was introduced by the UK government Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in 1998, defining creative industries as: those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation pf intellectual property. This includes advertising, architecture, the art and antiques market, crafts, design, designer fashion, film and video, interactive leisure software and computer games, television and radio.

Creativity also has some negative effects on workers. The ‘creative process’ can take a long time and there is a high level of risk. In recent times, technological advances have increased so rapidly, that adopting and working with the new technologies can make workers feel uncomfortable and left behind somewhat. With the economy as it is currently, and such high levels of unemployment, workers in the creative industries can struggle to maintain their career progress. This has led to a high level of competition and creates high levels of stress, but ultimately results in progress.

David Hesmondhaulgh, a prominent academic and a director of Media Industries Research Centre stated in his book that ‘creative labour and creativity is the big aspect for media workers[WU3]’(Hesmondhalgh 2002 p.168). In his opinion professional identity of creative industries involves four constituent elements: content, connectivity, creativity and commerce (Ibid) Professionals in media industries in particular and creative industries more generally produce content, yes. However, they also invest in platforms for connectivity – where fans and audiences provide free labour. Media work involves the ‘creation’ with the industries, yes, but tends to take place within a distinctly commercial context. Within a context of destabilising legacy industries and dissolving boundaries between media consumption and production, the media worker may feel isolated. However, this isolation can give some creative control to the media professional as well. Arthur (1994) suggests that “creating a career without boundaries could be the best, if not only, way to survive in the current work environment”. To some extent, individuals could be seen as taking control of their career paths, resulting in a new type of self-directed job security. It could also be said that those who are willing to train themselves, become more[WU4] attractive to management and employers. By being proficient in various methods of media production, workers can use multiple creative talents to their advantage – and are increasingly expected to be doing so.

In the everyday construction of a sense of self for cultural workers – that leads to a more or less coherent (or at least imagined) professional identity – it is the interplay between the values of providing[WU5] content, organising connectivity, managing creative freedom and being commercially successful (which is not necessarily an expression in monetary terms) that structures one’s negotiations. There is an argument to say that working in the creative industries would seem to allow the individual to identify themselves as a single producer of content and as part of a larger whole, whereas the intermediate level of the company or organisation seems to disappear. (David Hesmondhalgh, 2002)

Society massively benefits from creative and cultural labour. Creative workers are constantly thinking about what audiences’ think, what they want and work on ways of delivering this. There is huge demographic analysis and numerous surveys undertaken in either new creations of technological innovations, the making of new TV shows, art, literature and other various media platforms. Creative workers make products for people and society. As Maurizio Lazzarato[WU6] said: “The image of society is dominated by knowledge and information work” (Lazzarato, 1996).

Creativity and creative labour have a huge effect not only on workers and industries, but also on society and the world. London is a perfect example of a city of huge world status, which is defined and almost created by its cultural identity, practices and the development of its creative industries. Industries present in the capital are internationally oriented and diversified; which in itself cultivates the necessary support for both local and international creative activity. This type of activity makes London a more attractive environment to people that are artistic, thus resulting in the development of the city in economic, social and cultural ways. Charles Landry, (1997) claimed, “Cultural activities are inextricable to innovation and creativity, and historically this has been the lifeblood of cities as a means of unleashing their capacity to survive and adapt”. The places where the creativity and cultural activities took place in large lead only to development and growth of characteristic mentioned above.

The cultural and creative industries are part of what is commonly referred to as the ‘service and knowledge economy’. Writers who stress the role of creative (as a source of competitive advantage) point to the injection of ‘creative’ work into all areas of economic life. (Andy Pratt, 2006). Another important point to make here is that creative labour and creative industries create the so-called “New Economy”. “The New Economy”, is defined as the transition from ‘heavy industry’ to a new technology based economy. Creative labour is very connected to this concept because the provision of information and communication technologies (ICTs) is central to determining our economy be dynamic rather than just stable. Terry Flew (2001) stated that the core dynamics of this economic system arose out of the fusion of technologies of knowledge generation, information processing, and symbol communication with the processes of globalisation, digitisation and networking. He stated that these have led to the rise of the network society as the dominant form of social organisation. The point Terry Flew makes, is that creative industries and labour, whilst providing knowledge, new ideas and innovation of technologies make a huge contribution and are central to the development of our economy, which brings only benefits to our society and world as a whole.

In so-called ‘old economy’ markets are stable, in ‘new economy’ markets are dynamic, the scope of completion are less national, more global. Manufacturing used to be at the core of our economy, now everything is centred around services, knowledge and information. The source of value in ‘old economy’ is raw materials or physical capital; you could say that now, more value is placed on human resources and social capital. In business areas, key drivers of growth was capital and labour, now is about innovation, knowledge and networking. The main source of competitive advantage was lowering cost through scale, but now is made by innovation, quality and the depth and breadth of communication. The innovation of new information and communication technologies made by creative labour has changed the tastes of business and economy workers, people started to gain broad skills and adaptability when previously they have basic job-specific skills. Innovation and creativity make society think and discover differently in a way that is developing all the time.

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To conclude, creativity, creative labour and creative industries are great, significant and essential thing in our world. Creative labour creates and innovates things, new technologies, it provides new theories and information, which affects and influences workers, people, and the overall economy. It makes social and cultural life of people, cities and the world more positive and our ways of working smarter. Creative industries is useful for workers, especially media because of its highly popular graduate employment destinations with glamorous and exciting places to work alongside other highly educated, highly skilled workers. Creativity took place in media and communications. These are: advertising, architecture, the art and antiques market, crafts, design, designer fashion, film, interactive leisure software, music, the performing arts, publishing, software, television and radio. (Creative Industries Task Force, 1998)


Baker S. and Hesmondhalgh, D. (2011). Creative Labour. Media Work In Three Cultural Industries. Routledge

Blair, H. (2001). ‘“You’re Only as Good as Your Last Job”: the Labour Process and Labour Market in the British Film Industry.’ Work, Employment and Society. 15(1): 149-169.

Florida, R. (2004). The Rise of the Creative Class: And how it’s Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life. London: Basic Books.

Flew, T. (2012). The Creative Industries: Culture and Policy. London: Sage

Gill, R. and Pratt, A. (2008). ‘In the social factory? Immaterial labour, precariousness and cultural work’. Theory, Culture and Society. 25(1): 2-30

Hartley, J. (2005). Creative Industries. Blackwell. Oxford

Hesmondhalgh, D. (2007). The Cultural Industries, 2nd Edition. London: Sage

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