The meanings and problems of contemporary creative work

Taylor, Stephanie (2012). The meanings and problems of contemporary creative work. Vocations and Learning: Studies in Vocational and Professional Education, 5(1) pp. 41–57.



Contemporary creative work has emerged as a focus of international academic and policy attention since the late 1990s, the period in which the cultural and creative industries achieved recognition as a highly successful new sector. Commentators have noted the problems faced by many contemporary creative workers because of the precarious and ill-paid nature of much of the work in the sector. This article proposes that associations with the creative arts provide an important resource for the occupational identification for these workers, yet also a significant source of conflicts. Analyses of interviews with creative workers who were recruited from the students and alumni of UK art colleges (Higher Education Institutions in Arts and Design) suggest that meanings derived from the creative arts and taken up in educational contexts and elsewhere continue to shape these workers’ understandings of creative work, including the process of creative working, the trajectory of a creative career, and what constitutes success in creative work. The importance of these meanings is explored and detailed through a consideration of participants’ identifications using a narrative-discursive analysis of interview data.

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