Archive for the ‘ identity ’ Category

What can the field of entrepreneurship learn from studying cultural entrepreneurship?

i-can-t-keep-calm-because-i-m-an-artist

This is one of the questions being asked in a special issue of entitled Cultural Entrepreneurship for the International Journal of Entrepreneurship Venturing.

I am preparing an article for this special issue in which I shall focus on the following themes:

o    How does research on artistic identities and creative work practices inform our knowledge on cultural entrepreneurship?

o    How are cultural entrepreneurs enabled (or hindered) by their professional self-concept and routine work practices?

I aim to explore these themes by revealing insights into the lived experience of cultural entrepreneurship; the worker’s identities and personal agency within a specific context. Continue reading

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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?

The Entrepreneur as Jester.

imagesCACYS744In popular discourse, the identity of the entrepreneur is described as an individual’s life story, achieving entrepreneurial success in the face of adversity, thus creating a strong association with the innate attributes of the entrepreneur, acting as an autonomous ‘free agent’, and often against all the odds. For instance, Alan Sugar’s profile is that of someone who from humble beginnings has become a highly successful entrepreneur. This narrative is depicted by Warren and Anderson in their study of the ‘aesthetic performance of an entrepreneurial identity’ which illustrates the personality of Michael O’Leary, Chief Executive of the airline Ryanair (2009). For the authors, O’Leary’s entrepreneurial character is playful in his interactions with the media; he adopts a ‘jester-like pose, where the freedom of the clown’s cap allots a broad license to lambast both figures of authority influential in setting governance structures and also, the greyed ranks of august established competitors’ (ibid, p. 149). Warren and Anderson expose O’Leary’s ability to use entrepreneurial rhetoric as a means of challenging the structures which stand in his way, as a business man (ibid). Here, the idea of the entrepreneur is similar to that of the maverick, the disruptive individual who acts differently from the establishment. According to Warren and Anderson, O’Leary is empowered by performing this role and employs the character of the entrepreneur to meet his business needs in a competitive marketplace.

Continue reading

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.

Identity and Personal Agency: We are not Robots.

1312-20130301-RobotsForeverAs part of my methodology chapter, I am exploring theories of identity and personal agency as the framework for my approach.

Identity is an important subject in cultural studies. As a means of challenging social norms, particularly, western notions of identity, cultural identities such as gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation, for example, are explored and contested.

The authors of Identity and Agency in Cultural Worlds (Holland, Skinner, Lachicotte and Cain, 1998) research the dichotomy between humans as products of social discipline and the producers of the social worlds in which they live. In this contribution to anthropology, the authors argue that individuals play an active role in re-shaping themselves, their identity and their world. Continue reading

Cultural Entrepreneurship Poster

My draft poster for the Advancing European Traditions of Entrepreneurship Studies conference taking place in Leeds in on 18 and 19th March. This is what the conference is about:

This two-day workshop builds on the concept of a ‘European’ School of entrepreneurship research, by bringing together leading scholars who represent this movement through research which are distinct from the dominant behaviourist/positivist approaches that increasingly typify leading scholarly journals. The aim of the workshop is to provide a creative meeting space to consider experimental and novel approacheswhich advance theoretical understanding of the domain of entrepreneurship andits real-life practices, contexts and impacts. Drawing on multi-disciplinary perspectives, opportunities may thereby be created to expose conceptual anomalies, while developing impactful debates in dialogue with the mainstream of entrepreneurship science.

Cultural Work and Higher Education

I have written a chapter for a book entitled Cultural Work and Higher Education, edited by Dan Ashton and Caitriona Noonan. My chapter focuses on enterprise education and is based on research I did with post-graduate media students. Their experience of doing an enterprise module but not an evaluation of the module. This is the abstract for the chapter:

Media Enterprise in Higher Education: A Laboratory for Learning

Enterprise has become increasingly important in media and creative industries education. In this chapter, I explore some of the tensions between critical debates and teaching enterprise practice. Empirical evidence is provided from interviews with post-graduate media students revealing a dynamic and exploratory approach to entrepreneurship. While there are challenges, engaging with the practical aspects of entrepreneurship enables students to re-shape the idea of the entrepreneur to suit their own practice and circumstances. Reflection encourages students to develop their own media entrepreneur identity.

The book is published by Palgrave and should be available in Autumn 2013.