Archive for the ‘ Cultural labour ’ Category

Them and Us through the Looking Glass: Race, Arts and Politics

Them and Us through the Looking Glass: Race, Arts and Politics.

This event looks very interesting. It takes place at The Drum, Birmingham on Thursday September 18th, 7-9pm.

 

The organizers are asking the following questions:

 

  • What does it mean to be a BME artist?
  • How does the title affect your work and visibility as an artist, practitioner or thinker?
  • What does it really mean when wider institutions used ‘BME’ as a frame of reference?
  • What can we do to negotiate it- and other such terms that confine us to single narratives and tick boxes exercises-to ensure the fluidity, nuances and textures of our practices are reflected in these cultural and artistic domains?
  • Is the process of abstraction a useful tool in liquidating the racial markers used to define the sociological body when trying to penetrate the cultural and artistic spheres that exclude us?

Cultural Entrepreneurship: the role of personal agency in the cultural worker’s experience of entrepreneurship

In this blog I outline the context for my study of the role of personal agency in the cultural worker’s experience of entrepreneurship. The research draws on the academic disciplines of cultural studies, cultural policy studies and entrepreneurship studies as a context for empirical research of the lived experience of entrepreneurship in cultural work. In exploring the tensions between a celebration of entrepreneurial modes of work and critiques of entrepreneurship as a characteristic of a neo-liberal agenda, I reveal a more nuanced experience through individual narratives set within the context of a cultural industries milieu.

Context

Oakley questions the possibility of entrepreneurial work being ‘good work’ in her chapter ‘Good Work? Rethinking Cultural Entrepreneurship’ stating that there is a ‘disconnect between the discourse of cultural entrepreneurship and the reality of it’ (Oakley, 2013). The thrust of Oakley’s argument is that the policy rhetoric encouraging entrepreneurship needs to take note of the challenges of self-employment and the precarious nature of work in the cultural sector. A better understanding of different practices and individual experiences needs to inform the ‘rethinking of cultural entrepreneurship’. This ‘disconnect’ is the context for this study which seeks to reveal the lived experience of cultural entrepreneurship in the context of Birmingham’s (UK) cultural milieu.

My investigation draws on academic disciplines such as entrepreneurship studies and cultural studies which, at first glance, have very little in common. One is driven by a tradition of critical thinking (cultural studies), shaped predominantly by Marxist theories, while the other tends to prioritise practical implications for policy makers and practitioners. However, while on the surface there is little parity, I have found common ground on several points. Firstly, as Oakley and others (See Banks,  Hesmondhalgh, Hjorth and Steyaert) have suggested there is a call for more empirical studies capturing the lived experience of cultural entrepreneurship. Secondly, there is emerging literature which seeks to re-invent entrepreneurship, including being ‘enterprising’ for counter cultural activities or for ‘good’ work (morally, ethically and practically) within a social context.

The diversity of experience and the extent to which it represents meaningful work for cultural entrepreneurs is problematized by Hesmondhalgh and Baker in their investigation of good and bad work (2011). This study compliments that research but with an emphasis on the discourse of entrepreneurship as a means of exploring cultural work. Like Hesmondhalgh and Baker, I do not assume that the individuals I interview are ‘entranced’ (p.47, 2011) by cultural entrepreneurship; I argue that they are active agents within a Bourdieusian field. The accounts I have collected for this study are taken seriously, as the lived experiences of cultural entrepreneurs within constantly changing, complex social circumstances and structures (Bourdieu, 1993).

I explore this by engaging with critical debates and by investigating the contextualised experience of individual cultural entrepreneurs. Themes such as self-management, the myth of the entrepreneur and the relevance of place will be explored as a means of investigating the role of personal agency and in order to advance our understanding of cultural entrepreneurship. The process seeks to re-imagine the cultural entrepreneur by recognising the role of reflexivity and the possibilities for agentic practice. The distinctiveness of the approach aims to reveal highly personal experiences and subjective positions set within the context of a relatively small cultural industries community in Birmingham; a community in which I have been immersed for a number of years prior to this study. I draw on my knowledge of people, networks and of local policies by exploiting my position as part of Birmingham’s cultural industries community.

This work will further enhance current academics debates specifically in two disciplines: firstly scholarly work engaged with advancing the European tradition of entrepreneurship studies which seeks to explore entrepreneurship from broader perspectives and challenge dominant notions of the entrepreneur. Secondly it will inform scholarship in cultural policy and cultural studies by further developing critical perspectives through empirical research.

Position yourself

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I’ve just about finished my literature review and I’m feeling more confident about my ‘position’. The literature review is my first chapter and here is the introduction:

This chapter outlines the context for an exploration of cultural entrepreneurship. I draw on the academic disciplines of cultural studies, cultural policy studies and entrepreneurship to present different perspectives on the relationship between creative workers and entrepreneurial modes of work.

Critical debates, predominantly from cultural studies have sought to expose the paradox between on the one hand, a celebration of entrepreneurial and flexible work and on the other hand, evidence of self-exploitation (Hesmondhalgh and Baker, 2011, p.70-75). Many cultural studies critics depict policies embracing entrepreneurship as evidence of neo-liberal capitalism at play. In contrast, less politicized academics, view the focus on the cultural industries and enterprise as an opportunity to consider new working practices.

The literature associated with these polarized views forms the basis of this chapter and presents the conceptual framework for this research. My aim is firstly, to present key arguments that have shaped research on cultural entrepreneurship. Secondly, I hope to reveal clear distinctions between academic disciplines in terms of approach and purpose. And finally, I draw from both critical research and new movements in entrepreneurship to inform the basis for my empirical study.

 

My lit review plan

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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. Continue reading

The Future of Cultural Work

The recent conference at the Open University, The Future of Cultural Work, inspired much debate and discussion amongst delegates and touched on many pertinent issues for my PhD research into cultural entrepreneurship and education policy. With many strands including capitalism and work, precarious labour, working in television and inclusion & exclusion, it offered a variety of perspectives and provocations in relation to cultural work and cultural labour. Not only were the themes appropriate to my research, but many key academics on the subject presented and attended the conference – I must admit to being a little start-struck! Continue reading

A cultural studies take on cultural entrepreneurship

Over the last few months I have been reading several academic papers which all take a critical perspective on New Labour creative industries and the implications for cultural work.

The focus in the papers is on a critical analysis of New Labour policy and the impact on the individual cultural worker, on culture itself and on education policy. For my research on cultural entrepreneurship, I am interested in taking a critical view of my practice as an enterprise educator for vocational courses in Art, Design and Media. Knowing first hand, some of the difficulties with setting up as a cultural producer and having taken an entrepreneurial approach to my own work, I am keen to explore and problematise recent UK government policy. Continue reading