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Culture is Bad for You: Inequality in the Cultural and Creative Industries

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We often hear claims that there was a “golden age” in cultural work, and that the situation’s got worse more recently, particularly with reference to social class: we show that this is entirely due to changes in the labour market, and that cultural work has always been unequal. In the UK, the press is full of tales of culture in crisis, with redundancies sitting alongside potential organisational and business failures. A lot of the kinds of policy interventions that would be most effective in confronting inequalities in the cultural sector are broader than the sector itself. Finance is provided by PayPal Credit (a trading name of PayPal UK Ltd, Whittaker House, Whittaker Avenue, Richmond-Upon-Thames, Surrey, United Kingdom, TW9 1EH).

Provocatively titled, carefully argued, and accessibly written, Culture is bad for you demolishes our cherished myths about culture. However, the relation between autonomy and capitalist cultural production deserves more attention across social backgrounds. For example, I was having a conversation with somebody who’s doing a study on unpaid internships in arts degrees. Like the rest of our participants we’ve given her a pseudonym, so she could be honest and open in the interview. Yet while identity is the dimension in which public life is conducted, it is inherently paradoxical: on the one hand people cultivate their identity by association with a group, or religion, or nation, whilst on the other hand they distinguish themselves from their associates within those groups by presenting an intensified or purer form of the qualities which otherwise unite them.But we found that some of the informal structures of cultural work, such as people getting jobs through informal networks and a hostility from more senior people to what they see as bureaucracy, can make the situation worse. The chances are, if you are from a more middle class background, you have something like four times the chance of getting a creative job. Bibliographical noteMaggie Cronin is an actress, playwright and director currently undertaking a PhD at Queen’s University Belfast.

What does this mean, and what is the relationship between inequalities in the cultural sector and inequalities in wider society? Orian Brook is an AHRC Creative and Digital Economy Innovation Leadership Fellow at the University of Edinburgh Dave O'Brien is a Chancellor's Fellow in Cultural and Creative Industries at the University of Edinburgh Mark Taylor is a Senior Lecturer in Quantitative Methods at the University of Sheffield -- . Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone: not everyone who works in the creative industries fulfils the stereotype above, and it’s not as if every single wannabe actor with parental wealth ends up making it. Culture is sometimes narrated as a place where anyone can make it and thrive; we show that it’s much easier for some people than it is for others.

For white, middle class origin men, the experience is of a smoother rise to the top of organisations, institutions, and art forms. It is hard to be sure if investment in developing a new artist, a new musician, a new play, or a new novel, will pay off. Should we be aiming to protest the unequal situation of working-class people, seek representation on strategic bodies like Compacts? So, rather than focusing on individuals ‘escaping’ their social starting point, our concern should be improving the conditions of people who lack socio-economic privilege.

Banks is the author of three books including Represent: Art and Identity Among the Black Upper-Middle Class (Routledge), Diversity and Philanthropy at African American Museums (Routledge), and Race, Ethnicity, and Consumption: A Sociological View (Routledge). Read more about the condition New: A new, unread, unused book in perfect condition with no missing or damaged pages. For anyone who works in British culture, or cares who does, or simply values true equality of opportunity, this is essential reading. Culture Is Bad for You posits that absolute mobility has gone down, but also that the labour market has changed: there are less ‘traditional’ working class jobs now than there were in the 1960s, which means that relative mobility has remained the same.AB - In Culture is Bad for You: Inequality in the Cultural and Creative Industries (Manchester University Press, 2020), authors Orian Brook, Dave O’Brien and Mark Taylor cut through a Gordian Knot of interconnected and complex factors that create and maintain multiple inequalities within the UK Creative and Cultural Industries (CCIs). Only a small part of the population actually ‘attends’ culture: they go to theatres and opera houses, to museums and art galleries. The whole discourse became how politicians had made it impossible for working class people to get creative jobs. The key point here is that the organisation of work makes a sustainable career in culture extremely difficult, but disproportionally so for those people from working-class backgrounds, people of colour and women. abstract = "In Culture is Bad for You: Inequality in the Cultural and Creative Industries (Manchester University Press, 2020), authors Orian Brook, Dave O{\textquoteright}Brien and Mark Taylor cut through a Gordian Knot of interconnected and complex factors that create and maintain multiple inequalities within the UK Creative and Cultural Industries (CCIs).

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