New pathways into creative work?

Taylor, Stephanie and Luckman, Susan (2020). New pathways into creative work? In: Taylor, Stephanie and Luckman, Susan eds. Pathways into Creative Working Lives. Creative Working Lives. Palgrave MacMillan.



The experience of aspiring creative workers contrasts sharply with Paul Willis’s classic account of entry to working life from almost half a century ago, in his book, Learning to labour (1977). Creative work entails intellectual rather than physical effort. Unlike secure mid-twentieth century manufacturing jobs, creative employment tends to be precarious, badly paid and individualised, without either the support or constraints of a collective workplace culture. The long hours of creative work, the pressure to be flexible and mobile, and the high level of personal investment sit uneasily with the claims of workers’ partners and dependents. However, the emotional labour involved in creative work and the pressure to be continuously positive, disclaiming difficulties, may involve a similar denial of self to that described by Willis, despite the much celebrated association of creativity with self-actualisation, or its appeal to middle-class aspirants. This concluding chapter considers the pathways that are implied in accounts of contemporary creative work. The chapter questions the promise in the aspirational creative discourses of Higher Education and creative workplaces, but also notes the agency of workers in negotiating the ups and downs of creative employment. Finally, it considers the significance of a worker viewpoint of a creative pathway.

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