Archive for the ‘ New Labour ’ Category

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.

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.

The latest version of my PhD proposal

Project title:

Cultural Entrepreneurship – the implications of entrepreneurship curriculum for an art, design and media education policy

Research project:

My research is specifically focused on the implications of an entrepreneurship agenda in Art, Design and Media education. It seeks to explore the notion of enterprise and entrepreneurialism in the wider cultural and creative industries, as it is expressed in practice, in academic debates and through creative industry policy to inform educational policies. 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

‘cool’ work

There is perception that working in the creative and cultural industries is ‘cool’, pleasurable and a good lifestyle choice. It allows personal autonomy and expression.  Or does it?

The paper entitled ‘Looking for work in creative industries policy’ published in the International Journal of Cultural Policy by Mark Banks and David Hesmondalgh takes a critical look at the issues related with creative work. More specifically, they are focused on UK creative industries policy of the last 10 years (under New Labour) and the lack of research and debate about the conditions of work for creative workers. This is pertinent to my PhD research on Cultural Entrepreneurship because it questions the relationship between recent government policy and the practice of working in the creative and cultural industries. A short research study I undertook 2 years ago demonstrated clearly that some creative workers are very comfortable with the idea of entrepreneurship and enjoy the lifestyle which goes with it. Yet, to what extent have they been manipulated? Have they had the option to think and discuss their conditions of work? Continue reading

‘Has art given in to the way things are?’ McGuigan

by xdxd_vs_xdxd

In his second chapter of Cool Capitalism, McGuigan discusses the tension between art and business; artists and the economy. Tracing the issue back to the Romantics and the decline of the artist’s relationship with rich patrons, we see a shift towards the role of artists as critics of society, politics and the market. Art and literature then becomes defined by the idea of the ‘bohemians’, typified by the Impressionists and Baudelaire’s ‘flaneur’; a popular concept which still prevails. Citing many examples to demonstrate his point, McGuigan describes artistic practice  as the ‘Great Refusal’. In other words, the unwillingness to conform and the role of art as critique of the established order. Continue reading