Autonomy guaranteed: cultural work and the 'art-commerce' relation

Banks, Mark (2010). Autonomy guaranteed: cultural work and the 'art-commerce' relation. Journal for Cultural Research, 14(3) pp. 251–269.



The aim of this article is to examine synthetically the concept of 'autonomy' in cultural and creative industries work. Following brief discussion regarding the definition(s) of autonomy, and its historical linkages to discourses of art, I then rehearse three prominent social science critiques which suggest the possibilities for autonomy in cultural work have been seriously diminished or compromised. Against these readings, utilizing Bill Ryan's work on the 'art-commerce relation', I then discuss how autonomous cultural work is, in fact, impossible to destroy since ensuring its survival is a prerequisite for the production of value in cultural and creative industry production. Finally I consider how this provision of freedom may then serve to underwrite autonomous cultural work of a more varied (critical, aesthetically-driven, socially-embedded or practice-led) character that that conventionally conceived of in the orthodox critiques.

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