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Lecture4 - Labour

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Indrek Ibrus

on 20 September 2013

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Transcript of Lecture4 - Labour

Cultural labour processes
[lecture 4 - Dr Indrek Ibrus]
Social context
Work in creative industries
Conclusion: key trends
Network Society
People in all sectors of the economy have to come to terms with the challenges and opportunities of contingent employment, precarious labour, and an overall sense of real or perceived job insecurity.
Success of keeping a job increasingly depends on the developments beyond the control of the employee or employer.

In the Information Age, the individual carries the brink of the weight of finding, negotiating, and securing employment.

Not only because of government deregulations and global market forces but is also fueled by ongoing individuation of society.
Anthony Giddens - "Runaway world"
People are not entirely powerless in the face of global market forces. However, the ability, skills and resources necessary to navigate these global waters are beyond the means and capacities of very many.
Conditions of work at the beginning of 21st century are in constant flux - one moment you're doing fine, the next moment your company restructures because of the merger or smth.
Creative workers in their twenties and thirties are more likely to already have had at least three or four different employers.

Also the top-level managers meet the same challenges and survival requirements.
Manuel Castells (2000) defines a Network Society as a society where the organizational arrangements of humans in relation to such crucial everyday life-issues as production, consumption and experience are made of networks.

The relationships of capital and labour are individualized - as they are organized around the network enterprise form of production.

The NS can be understood as a logical next step in the evolution of the global market economy from perfectioning production to understanding consumption.

Labour is now organized around the principle of "reflexive production".

Work in a digital age becomes thus contingent on constant and immediate communication with local and global markets of infinite variety.
Facing the need to be able to adapt quickly to local as well as global shifts in consumption and production trends, many parts of the industry are choosing to casualise labour - result: pool of underpaid, insecure, low-status, short term jobs grows.
The trend towards flexible work started in the rush of an increasingly
information based global economy to the internet.
Researchers have found both employers and employees in fact preferring a precarious condition of so-called "boundaryless" employment. As a career path it goes beyond the boundaries of single employment settings and involves a sequence of jobs.
Portfolio workalike can be seen in different lights as providing both benefits as well as significant threats.
Industry's hourglass structure
Creativity management
Tech, convergence & participatory culture
Clustering and Risk
SMS and ringtone emergence - example of the complex context of an increasingly "culturalised" experience economy - behaviors and passions of consumers have become more likely to propel businesses into action, steering product development, innovation, and differentiation.

Scott Lash and John Urry have argued how the late twentieth-century individual has become more aesthetically reflexive and semiotically literate. ….Steven Johnson "Everything bad is good for you"

Culturalisation of the new economy, when coupled with the anesthetization of everyday life, has also produced a consumer increasingly willing and able to modify, design, and innovate products herself. -

Eric von Hippel (2005) - democratization of innovations - how in individualized society people not only look for something on the market that meets their needs, but they also engage in tailoring and adapting the acquired products or services to fit exactly with what they want.

Terranova - customer co-creation as "free labour". Terranova (2000): "Free labour is the moment where this knowledgable consumption of culture is translated into productive activities that are pleasurably embraced and at the same time often shamelessly exploited"

The "liquefaction" of cultures of production and cultures of consumption undermines a major structure of the social division of labour between firms and industries on the one hand, and consumers on the other. Yet it also opens up all kinds of ways for commercial organizations to harness the voluntary work performed by "atomized" and therefore powerless individual customers.
Creative and cultural industries cluster in certain urban regions - increasingly branded as "creative cities"

Scott (2000:24) argues that one would expect "a sort of universal deterritorialization/liquifaction of world capitalism", but shows that quite the opposite is occurring.

Instead, for instance, industries like music, cinema, multimedia, etc. generate business for restaurants, clubs, theaters, galleries, etc. - creative industries are also key to analyzing the changing economic and cultural environment of the world's urban spaces.
Creative industries are special - presume delicate balancing between the creative autonomy of culture creators and the scientific management of commercial enterprises.
Media industry must be seen as shaped by the individual and collective professional identities of artists, writers, directors, editors, designers, and the hundreds of thousands of other creatives employed, subcontracted, or otherwise engaged by what Jeremy Tunstall (2001:1) introduces as an "extremely variegated, fragmented, and unstandardised" industry.

Hesmondhalgh - cultural production getting increasingly complex.

Much of the work is being done by individuals, or by teams and groups of people that generally only temporally bundle their talents and skills for a specific project.
Mark Deuze:

In contemporary definitions of what the work within these industries involves, four elements tend to get mixed up, which to some extent makes an adequate assessment of media work rather difficult: content, connectivity, creativity, and commerce - which all translate into the production of culture.

Media industries produce content, but also invest in platforms for connectivity - where fans and audience provide free labour. Media work is culture creation, but tends to take place within a distinctly commercial context.
Also the large global corporations are struggling and are at risk. The increased complexity of international operations and exposures to uncertainties, coupled with risk in consumer tastes, regulations, and investment in distribution, in fact leads to performance declines.

The organization of work in these (large) companies is far from streamlined - much depends on particular values, behaviors and beliefs of individual actors in the creative process.
Chris Bilton typifies the cultural geography of the creative industries as a range of informal networks of collaboration, expertise and influence. These networks have both horizontal dimensions (people) and vertical (supply lines, value chains, etc.)

Informal networks among generally short-term (and often freelance) employed professionals within a broader industry structure dominated by project-based work are what epitomizes workstyles in the creative industries today.
Clustering is primarily motivated by a strategy to counter the risky nature of the media business.

In cultural industries, "risk is managed and trust is negotiated in informal contexts, social networks and social spaces […] new ties of trust, whether they be strong or weak, help break down industry boundaries and themselves become part of the creative process leading to unforeseen collaborations and/or new cultural product" (Banks et al. 2000:463) - hence clustering physically.
Often every single project gets produced by a team of people specifically assembled for that purpose.

Putting the team together doesn't necessarily mean getting the best people, but instead people that trust each other. In other words - teamwork based media production tends to be done within a cultural context of what it means to the people involved - more so than any rational reason.

Teams can be considered to be the organization of work particular to the network society - as they are cooperative, instantaneous, and the key competence the individual members are expected to bring to the job are so-called "soft" skills.

Convergence in media work refers to two phenomena: 1) the convergence of place (workplace and home); 2) and the convergence of technology - furthering means of managerial control over media work. Such control takes place through workflow standardization, workplace surveillance, etc.

Creative workers do not want to be "slaves" to the relatively limited range of options offered by preprogrammed CMS.

Convergence means also the emergence crossmedia phenomena - new ways of expression across multiple platforms.

Media industries are also often "at the forefront of processes of organizational change including new flexible work regimes, reflexive corporate cultures, and the introduction of digital technologies, multimedia production and multi-skilled practices." (Cottle 2003:3)

Inhabited institutions

Convergence Culture

Hourglass Effect

Global Production Networks

International Division of Cultural Labour

Semi-Permanent Work Groups

Heterarchic Project Ecologies

Information Age.
Most jobs today in knowledge and information work. This trend, largely fueled by the twin developments of market globalization and technological innovations, favors those engaged in what Manuel Castells (2000) conceives as "informational labor" - a category of well-educated, resourceful, and innovative workers.

They are the Richard Florida's "creative class".
Contemporary corporations find answers to the modern developments by bringing about all kinds of job destruction practices. Richard Sennet (1998) calls this "workforce flexibility" - rearranging the economy on a working assumption of permanent change. For employees this means that they have to come to terms with structural job insecurity and a career that seems like an endless accumulation of experiences.
Ulrich Beck: Risk Society

Beck: Risks of survival are redistributed towards the individual.

Risk of finding and keeping a job has become an individual risk.
Continous searching for jobs, preparing for potential future jobs, as well as managing multiple careers more or less simultaneously have become core elements of the workstyle in everyday life for many.
"Hourglass effect" - large multinational media conglomerates strive towards horizontal and vertical integration.

At the other end also the number of small enterprises is growing - constituting "a vast reservoir of underused and under-resourced talent, picking up work here and there."
"Liquid Life"
"Social Network Markets"
Labour has become precarious - seems to be disappearing fast.
Freedom and security, often seen as mutually exclusive, thus become ambiguous in the context of how different people from different walks of life deal with, and give meaning to, the consequences of not having either. It is perhaps the perfect paradox of contemporary liquid life.
Zygmunt Bauman warns against such overtly optimistic readings of relative freedom: "acrobatics and rope-walking without safety-net".

Endless individual and professional remixing of working and living.
Blend of work and lifestyle: a "workstyle"

Zygmunt Bauman would argue that the traditionally separate cups of life, work, and play are spilling over, leaking and flowing into one another, creating the conditions of a liquid life (2005b)

Liquid life as a precarious life, lived under conditions of constant uncertainty.
Agora is a co-working art space for groups and individuals in the creative field, situated in the industrial building in the heart of Neukölln, Berlin.
CI professionals care deeply about their work. The difficulty of media management is underscored by the combination of this rather unique element of media worker's sense of professional identity and a structural sense of risk and unpredictability that is part of the cultural production process.

Ci professionals often see the organization as merely a conduit for their work.

And as a result more people want to work in these industries than there are jobs available, agreeing to lower salaries, etc.
Teambased labour also tends to be portable, in that workers mode from project to project rather than carrying out a continuing set of tasks. This means that employers are continually faced with re-composing a workforce, while workers are always looking and preparing for their next job.
But the crucial topic is the relationship between the cultural worker and the audience.
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