Trying to work out the key question

As I am getting closer to the MPhil upgrade and submitting a more detailed proposal, I have started to focus on the key question to be explored in my PhD research.

What is the nature of entrepreneurship in cultural and media work and what are the implications for vocational education?

I explore this problem by researching cultural workers and the nature of entrepreneurship as it is experienced by individuals working as freelancers and in small independent businesses within the creative, media and cultural industries. The emphasis is placed on the specific experience of these workers, their potentially entrepreneurial behaviors and skills as they negotiate a career in the UK’s creative industries sector. This informs and raises debates for higher education policies in creative, media, art and design subject areas, with an emphasis on the post graduate level.

Theoretical framework

There is relatively limited academic research on the subject of entrepreneurship and the creative industries in comparison with policy documentation on the subject (DCMS, 2006b). The exception to that is the only book specifically on the subject, Entrepreneurship in the Creative Industries; An International Perspective (Henry, 2007), and a few articles and chapters (Carey, 2006b, Hagoort, 2008, Ellmeier, 2003, Rae, 2007, Eikhof, 2006). Of the examples just cited, the interest in the subject has come predominantly from entrepreneurship theorists rather than cultural, media studies or the arts. The result is a perspective which has a tendency to favor entrepreneurship or at the very least not question it, as well as paying relatively little attention to a more critical debate about cultural work.

In contrast, cultural studies research includes research on cultural work (rather than entrepreneurship specifically) and most recently this has been captured by Hesmondhalgh and Baker, in their book, Creative Labour: Media work in three cultural industries(Hesmondhalgh, 2011). This study aims to bring together the growing interest in cultural work from cultural studies with disciplines which explore work from a business, management or organizational perspective, and with the sociology of work. The authors starting point is cultural studies research which tends towards a critical analysis of the over optimistic discourse which has permeated recent UK cultural policy (Oakley, 2009, Hesmondhalgh, 2005, McGuigan, 2009). The accounts of creative work they explore offer an important and detailed insight into the conditions of work which too often are celebrated simply as positive characteristics of the sector with no real evidence of some of the difficulties encountered.

It is these polarized perspectives, alongside working with post graduate creative and media students and teaching them entrepreneurship which has raised questions about the very nature of entrepreneurship as it is lived and experienced in this sector. Given that entrepreneurship and self-employment are increasingly important in vocational courses, I aim to explore and reflects on the nature of highly contextualized entrepreneurship to inform education policy and curriculum. There is a proliferation of generic learning tools to teach entrepreneurship and business start up which often does not meet the specific needs of media and creative students or reflect current industry standards. Entrepreneurship education in context can allow for an opportunity to contest the dominating discourse of enterprise and explore the nature of entrepreneurship specifically as it relates to the cultural, creative and media workers.

An exploration of these issues requires a level of research and knowledge of the lived experience of cultural work as described by those working in the sector. The next section starts to discuss approaches to capturing these stories and experiences, and attempts to test these to inform the methodology and practical processes.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: