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Life is a pitch: Managing the self in new media work

Gill, R (2010) "Life is a pitch": managing the self in new media work. In Mark Deuze
(ed.) Managing Media Work. London (etc) Sage.!
Life is a pitch: Managing the self in
new media work
Professor Rosalind Gill
Tel'+44'(0 )20'7848'1019''
Cul ture,'Media'and'Cr eat ive' Ind ustries'
Kin g’s' College'London'
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Rosalind Gill (2010; forthcoming) "Life is a pitch": managing the self in new media
work. In Mark Deuze (ed.) Managing Media Work. London (etc) Sage.
In this chapter I pull together the findings of a number of studies of new media work --
including my own research in the UK, US and Netherlands -- to explore what it means to
'manage' lives in new media. I use 'management' here not in its conventional or 'business
school' sense but with a more critical inflection that comes from Marxist, feminist and
poststructuralist thinking. I'm interested in how workers themselves manage lives that are
characterised by processes of speeding up, intensification and contingency. Using a
Foucauldian optic, I will suggest that working in new media involves multiple practices of
managing the self in conditions of radical uncertainty.
The chapter is divided into three -- unequal -- sections. In the first, I briefly locate new media
in the context of rapid transformations of work in capitalism, and introduce the studies on
which this paper is based. In the second -- and by far the longest -- section I highlight 10 key
features of contemporary new media work including precariousness, new inequalities, and
relentless pressures to keep up and stay abreast of changing technologies. Finally, in the
conclusion I pull together the threads to argue that new media work calls forth or incites into
being a new ideal worker-subject whose entire existence is built around work. She must be
flexible, adaptable, sociable, self directing, able to work for days and nights at a time without
encumbrances or needs, must commodify herself and others and recognise that -- as one of
my interviewees put it -- every interaction is an opportunity for work. In short, for this
modernised worker-subject, 'life is a pitch'.
Precarious work
Transformations in advanced capitalism under the impact of globalisation, rapidly developing
information and communication technologies, and changing modes of political and economic
governance are producing a situation in which increasing numbers of workers in affluent
societies are in insecure casual or intermittent employment. Of course, this has long been the
experience of most workers, for most of the time throughout the history of capitalism, but
what is new is the way in which this is now extending even to professional workers in the
affluent North and West. The last decades have seen a variety of attempts to make sense of
the broad changes in contemporary capitalism that have given rise to this -- through
discussion of shifts relating to post-Fordism, post-industrial society, network society, liquid
modernity, information Society, new capitalism and Risk Society. Whilst accounts vary
significantly in their readings of the causes of transformations, there is some consensus that
this 'Runaway world' (Giddens, 2002) or 'Brave New World of work' (Beck, 2000) is
characterised by risk, insecurity and contingency in which more and more of the costs of
work are borne by the workers themselves. As Mark Deuze (2007:x) puts it 'this is a time
when most people experience their lives as a perpetual white water, living in a state of
constant flux and uncertainty'.
In these accounts creative workers -- and new media workers in particular -- occupy a special
place. They are seen by critics and celebrants alike as the forerunners of 'the future of work' --
exemplars of the move away from traditional notions of career to more informal precarious
and intermittent employment; poster girls and boys for a future in which the need to
constantly train and retrain, updating skills and knowledge, will be an ongoing requirement;
immaterial labourers in informational capitalism and iconic members of 'the precarious
generation' , potential subjects in a new 'precariat' that may yet pose a threat to capitalism
(see Gill & Pratt, 2008 for useful summary of these debates).
At the same time, these workers have also been endowed a leading role in policy discourses -
- part of the „creative class‟ (Florida, 2002) charged with providing a panacea for all social
ills: regenerating urban areas, fostering community and social cohesion, and improving
health, well-being and quality of life. Above all, they are hailed by governments around the
world as "new model workers" of the future: self-sacrificing, self-directed, entrepreneurial,
accustomed to precarious employment and motivated to produce „big hits‟ -- ideally ones
that will merge 'creativity' with the financial possibilities of IT start-ups, generating a
rapprochement between Art and Commerce (Caves, 2000). Icons of New Economy thinking,
small entrepreneurial creative businesses are hailed as „flexible‟ and „risk-tolerant‟. In this
neoliberal rhetoric,in which securities and benefits are seen as „smothering‟ enterprise and
creativity, poor pay and profound insecurity are „discursively sweetened‟ (Beck, 2000),
made palatable by talk of „free agency‟ (Pink, 2001) as if „an existential test of character
inviting people to be exhilarated by the thrill of proving themselves by finding out if they
have what it takes to prevail in the heady swim of self-employment‟(Ross, 2009:5), If the
buzz of risk-taking does not appeal there are also the pleasures of the work itself -- points
repeatedly emphasised in policy documents: 'Just imagine how good it feels to wake up every
morning and really look forward to work. Imagine how good it feels to use your creativity,
your skills, your talent to produce a film or editor magazine. Are you there? Does it feel
good?' (from Your Creative Future, quoted in Nixon & Crew, 2004) At times these ideas can
be mobilised with an almost breathtaking cynicism. In the UK, a Work Foundation report
entitled 'Staying Ahead', published late in 2007 asserts:
The creative industries are peopled by creative talents who themselves get pleasure
and utility from what they do. They are 'called to their art'. One upside from a
business perspective (although it attracts complaints of exploitation) is that the
'reservation' wages -- the lowest they are prepared to work for -- are lower than the
marginal value of what they produce, making labour particularly cheap. The downside
is that the 'talent' care deeply about how creative work is organised, which may
discourage concessions or compromises to management‟
Discussing this report David Hesmondhalgh and Mark Banks (2009) summarise: employers
beware: the creative is cheap, but is potentially a source of trouble.
Do believe the hype?
So far, we have seen little evidence of that 'trouble' (eg resistance or refusal) -- outside a few
celebrated/notorious examples, mostly in the computer games industry (see eg de Peuter &
Dyer-Witheford, 2006; Terranova, 2004). On the contrary, accounts of work in new media
(and other creative industries) have sometimes born a striking similarity to the policy
hyperbole (e.g. Leadbeter & Oakley, 1999)
Excitement, buzz, pleasure, autonomy are accorded a central place. Moreover, as I argued
some years ago (Gill,2002) new media work has had a good press. It is popularly regarded as
exciting and cutting edge work, and its practitioners are seen as artistic, young and „cool‟
especially when compared with the previous generation of technologically literate IT workers
(e.g. programmers and software designers) who had a distinctly more nerdy‟ or „geeky
image. The work itself is seen as creative and autonomous, and working environments and
relationships as relaxed and non-hierarchical. When new media businesses are shown on
television, the now standard tropes of representation include a trendy warehouse setting in the
cultural quarter of a city, a group of young people coded as „diverse‟ (male, female, black,
white,gay, straight) and as „creative‟ (untidy, chaotic, obsessive), who work long and unusual
hours (e.g. getting up at lunchtime and then working through the night) and relate to each
other in a casual and informal manner. This view of new media work is not limited to
television producers, but is widely shared among the general public, academics, policy-
makers and even new media workers themselves who cite the youth, dynamism and
informality of new media work as some of the main reasons it was attractive to them (Gill
and Dodd 2000).
However, in the last few years, a number of studies have offered a different picture of
working lives in new media -- one that recognises the pleasures but also looks at some of the
costs of this kind of working life -- attending to what Angela McRobbie (2006) calls 'the
pleasure-pain axis'. Taken together, these studies offer a remarkably consistent portrait of
new media work. In what follows, I highlight 10 key features of these working lives, drawing
on my own research over the last decade, conducted in seven European countries and the US,
which has featured cross national surveys, as well as more than 250 in-depth interviews (see
Gill and Dodd 2000; Gill, 2007; Pratt et al, 2007).
The interviews from which I quote in this paper were conducted among 34 new media
workers in Amsterdam (see Gill, 2007 for full report). The term 'new media work' covers an
extraordinary diversity of different occupations. Rather than imposing our own definitions,
interviewees were invited to tell us how they described their own work, and amongst the job
titles we heard there was barely a single overlap. Self-descriptions included: programme,
interaction designer, editor, copywriter, business manager, artist, illustrator, researcher,
content manager, freelance concept maker, software document writer, consultant, project
manager, website developer and entrepreneur. Participants in the study also fell into many
different categories of employment -- freelancers, company owners, or employees --
frequently moving between these on a regular basis or even combining different statuses at
the same time e.g. working freelance in their own time, but also being in paid employment to
'pay the bills' or 'learn more skills'.
It quickly became clear that work biographies in new media are extremely rich and complex,
and bear little resemblance to traditional notions of the 'career' with their expectations of
linear development and progression of the hierarchy. They are what Lisa Adkins (2008) has
called 'DIY biographies' -- working lives lived with a sense of needing to be adaptable and
ready to 'have a go' at anything.
New media lives: 10 key features
1.Love of the work
A consistent finding of research on new media workers is the passion it inspires, and the
profound affective ties people develop to their work (Neff et al, 2005; Ehrenstein,2006; Ross,
2003; Kennedy, forthcoming). The sheer enjoyment of the work was mentioned by many of
my interviewees who said, for example, 'it's like being paid for your hobby'. For some, this
derived from the sensuous experience of creative work itself; for others it was the buzz of the
working environment. As Bas, a man in his 30s, put it: 'the atmosphere at work is relaxed,
jovial. There is music on in the office and people have a lively conversations. No dull factory
humanoids here'. Still others were inspired by 'the chance to communicate in new ways' and
the opportunities to work in a new medium which 'does not have a tradition like other art
forms have' and is therefore 'open to people to develop it'
2. Entrepreneurialism
A characteristic entrepreneurialism defines many working in new media (Neff et al, 2005).
This can be seen in both the economic organisation -- the proliferation of micro-businesses or
independents -- but also in the habits and dispositions and mentalities of the workers, with
their aspirations to innovate, create and to be pioneers (Adkins, 2008). As one of my
respondents put it: 'the only limit is our imagination. We are learning, making it up, creating
it'. Another said: 'it's all about innovation, everything I do. It's a constant learning process. I
like that'.
Unlike studies in the US, in which financial reward was often mentioned (Batt et al, 1999;
Indergaard, 2004) research in Europe has not highlighted money as a particular motivation
for new media workers. Nevertheless an entrepreneurial thrill was central to involvement in
new media work -- particularly the autonomy to direct one's own work when and where you
like without being answerable to a boss:
Danielle: What I really like is the freedom of being an entrepreneur. There is nothing like it, I
choose my own clients and I go when I want to go. I can set my own goals and work with
whoever I like... there's no one between me and the client, no project or team leaders.
3. Short-term, precarious, insecure work
Precarious and intermittent work seems to be endemic to life in new media, as with much
other cultural work (Ursell 2000; Banks, 2007;Deuze, 2007; McRobbie, 2002; 2007). This is
clearly the case for freelancers, who often combine several different jobs in order to survive.
These might be multiple 'new media' jobs or, more commonly, jobs in teaching or the service
sector to 'pay the bills'. In my study insecurity was a defining feature of freelancers lives. As
Harry put it 'it's insecure. Maybe I will look for jobs two days a week to pay the rent. But
really I'm too busy for that'. Worrying about the next piece of work was a major
preoccupation: 'I was wondering, shit where is the next assignment. Two or three months
now without assignments. Gee! (Alfred).
The insecure conditions experienced by freelancers translated into concerns about lack of
access to benefits, insurance and pension schemes, and attendant worries about becoming ill,
having an accident or having to work into old age. Not surprisingly these concerns were
experienced most acutely by the older age groups in our research. Moreover, many people
could not bridge 'downtimes' over periods like Christmas, and few were able to take holidays.
Regulating the flow of work also produced anxiety: „In an ideal situation I have two or three
assignments at the same time. Lower than that is scary and higher than that is too busy. But
two or three assignments is good' (Geke). Yet most people shared the view that it was always
too risky to turn down work -- and this in itself could produce problems, not least exhaustion:
Liam:It's very intensive and I don't have enough time to rest. Because it's always going on.
And if you don't plan something for yourself, someone will call and say you have to be there,
and there. You can't say no to a job. Because you don't know when the next job is going to be.
But those in contracted employment were not necessarily faring much better. A steady
contract might only be for three months, and some people were in the seemingly paradoxical
position of having 'stock options' in the company, yet being on a zero hours contract which
meant that they could lose their job without any notice at all.
Hugo:I have a steady contract, but my company is being reorganised and that gives me a lot
of insecurity. And will the reorganisation turn out to be emphasising sales and losing certain
departments such as mine?'
4. Low pay
Contrary to the myths and to examples of companies that were able to develop a 'single big
hit' or 'breakthrough project' (McRobbie, 2007) or concept, thus attracting major financial
rewards, most people in new media work for very low pay. Again, freelancers or micro-
businesses are disproportionately affected by this, and 'second jobbing' is common.
Superficially hourly rates might appear reasonably high, but these rates were rarely an
accurate reflection of real pay -- not least because of the pressures to 'pitch low' in order to
get a piece of work, or because of a marked tendency to underestimate how long an
assignment would take. Respondents repeatedly told us that 'it always takes me three times
longer than I think it will' with the effect that all the 'excess' hours are unpaid. Time-
budgeting and other 'business' or self-management skills were occasionally mentioned in
interviews as desirable to learn, yet it is not clear that such training would actually help
freelancers, given the competitive pressures on prices that most feel constrained by -- that is
'to win the contract, you sometimes have to quote it for less than it will actually cost you'.
Without interventions such as fixed union rates for the job, it might be expected that
freelancers who pitched at the appropriate level would simply not get the job. Interviewees
were painfully aware of this.
Another factor was the desire to do good work for organisations to whom one was
sympathetic, or with whom workers are connected through a web of friendship and business
contacts. Connected to this, too, was the 'sacrificial' ethos described by Andrew Ross (2000),
in which commitment to values of a „higher‟ nature- eg the idea of art for art‟s sake or of
creativity as a „calling‟ feeds into a mentality in which workers are prepared to accept
appalling pay and conditions that would, in other sectors, be regarded as nakedly exploitative.
5. Long hours cultures
Creative work in new media is marked by very long hours -- particularly among those who
freelance or work in their own micro-enterprises. In my study, participants reported regularly
working between 60 and 80 hours per week.
Joost: Like 60 or so. Sometimes up to 80 when a project needs to be finished. In the last
months we made three games a week and that means working day and night. Banners always
have to be finished the next day. Websites take much longer.
One respondent explained exactly how he settled upon the length of his working week: he
learned from others about the maximum number of hours it was possible to work over a long
and sustained period without burning out, and he tried to keep to this number: 65 hours each
week. Many people regularly had to 'pull all nighters' in order to finish projects but then
found themselves in periods without any work at all -- the classic example of what Andy Pratt
(2002) has called a 'bulimic' style of working. But work was not just intensive, it was also
marked by extensification (Jarvis & Pratt, 2006) across different spaces of the workers lives -
- not just in a workplace, but also at home, on the train, on the beach. For some this was
experienced as pleasurable, a matter of 'putting everything into my own company' and 'doing
something I like' that 'gives me energy' (Jaap). For others it was almost a badge of
commitment. In response to a question about how her work fitted with the rest of her life one
young woman answered: 'I don't do anything else. Well, some things. But it is creative and I
put everything in that. And if you don't love what you do, you better stop. Even this
interviewee, however, did acknowledge that she might want to work for fewer hours as she
grew older and to 'have some time for myself'.
6.Keeping up
Compared to other creative fields (e.g. fine art, performance), new media work is an industry
in which knowledge changes at an extraordinarily rapid pace, new software packages and
standards proliferate and people experience intense pressure to 'keep up' and stay abreast of
current developments. Indeed, Nalini Kotamraju (2002) has argued that in web design 'not
keeping up with the latest technology definitely means that one is not a good web designer,
but it also means that one may not be a web designer at all‟. The time needed to stay up-to-
date and reskill was often experienced as an additional requirement on top of already long
working hours.
Alfred: Well I think the hours that we make... it is sometimes really incredible. Working
through the night happens regularly, and if you have kids as well... well I don't know. Plus
you have to keep up and that takes time and energy as well.
As Joost responded when asked how long he spent keeping up with knowledge in his field:
'sort of all the time'. This could sometimes produce anxiety and fears of being left behind or
becoming ill through overwork.
Elisabeth:'I do find the speed of change intimidating at times, I admit that. I find it difficult to
keep my work in check. I used to take work home with me, in order to be able to read. And
that has become a's a privilege to have a job which is also your hobby, but it
shouldn't make you ill'
Even the thought of having relentlessly to check, monitor and update one's skills that could
sometimes be experienced as oppressive:
Danielle: 'a neighbour came by and he asked me whether I worked with Ajax yet. And I was
like, oh my god I have to work with that and learn that now too. It's all a bit too much for me'
7.DIY learning
New media workers are generally highly educated, often to degree level and beyond.
However they are also likely to have been disappointed by their experiences of formal
education, critiquing the dominance of theory over practice in University education, the
failure of courses and teachers to keep pace with change, and the lack of preparation for
working in business environments, or, crucially, for managing 'portfolio careers' or other non-
standard forms of employment. The vast majority favoured learning informally from the net,
from other people or through trial and error -- 'learning by doing' as one interviewee put it.
Sebastian: 'it's all learning on the job. There is no course you can send me to where I can
learn something. By the time I had finished that job 13 other things will have changed.
There's not even a school course for this kind of job.'
The 'informality' of work in new media has many aspects. On the one hand the legendary
workplaces of Apple, Microsoft, Google and other huge corporations with their 24/7 cultures
and promise that all needs can be met within the organization (see Bronson, 1999). Features
of these much mythologised work environments have filtered down into medium-size
enterprises with table football, TV packages, freely available food and drink and a general
bohemian 'work as play' ethos (de Peuter & Dyer-Witheford, 2006; Ross, 2003). This too can
be seen in the 'club to company' (McRobbie, 2003) atmosphere of many micro-businesses
and start-up companies a „friends club that got out of hand‟ as one of our interviewees put
it. But more than this, informality is the structuring principle on which many small and
medium-sized new media companies seem to operate: finding work, recruiting staff, getting
clients, are all seemingly removed from the formal sphere governed by established
procedures, equal opportunities legislation or union agreements and located in an arena based
on informality, sociality and 'who you know'.
We asked new media workers in Amsterdam how they obtained their job. Here is a selection
of the answers:
Kristoff: Through a friend
Karl: One of my former students now works there and told the management about me
BJ: This assignment I got from somebody who worked in an advertising agency I worked for
before... he remembered me from a job I had done
Fundamentally, finding work in new media -- in whatever capacity or contractual status -- is
based on an amalgam between two commonplaces that circulated through our interviews.
These were the phrases 'it's all down to who you know' and 'you are only as good as your last
job' (Blair, 2001). The two could sometimes be in tension, but often worked in concert --
particularly in the absence of 'official accounts' of workers achievements, such as employer
references or formal qualifications (in a context in which, as we have seen, much learning is
done informally or "on-the-job'). As the quotes above indicate, the entire economy of work
opportunities operates through contacts -- people you meet at conferences, parties, drinks
evenings, friends of friends, ex-colleagues, etc.
Informality propels 'networking' to centre stage in the lives of new media workers. As
Danielle said: 'it never hurts to network. That is true. I am friends with a lot of companies
who do the same and I have established that the more people I know who do the same as I do,
the more work I have'. Others told us that networking had become a necessity or obligation:
'Monday night is the only night I don't have networking drinks' (Sonia). The requirement to
network and build contacts also brings other pressures, named by Melissa Gregg (2006) as
the 'compulsory sociality' of the neoliberal workplaces, in which one can never really switch
off or relax, and one is never totally away from work. Indeed, in this sense, the entire self is a
work project that must be presented in all the right ways that all the right occasions. This
„work on the self‟ will be returned to later in this chapter as a key part of managing new
media work.
9.Exclusions and inequalities
As noted earlier, one of the potent myths of new media work beloved by TV producers,
policymakers and new media workers themselves is that the field is 'cool, creative and
egalitarian'. However, new media workplaces have turned out to be characterised by a
number of entrenched and all too old-fashioned patterns of inequality relating to gender, age,
class, race and ethnicity and disability.
In addition to rather familiar patterns of inequality relating to access to work within the field,
rates of pay, and so on, there seem to be a number of new forms of inequality emerging
relating it to precisely the features of work that are most highly valued -- autonomy,
flexibility and informality (Adkins, 1999; Banks & Milsetone, 2009;Gottschall& Kroos,
2007; Mayerhofer & Mokre, 2007; Perrons, 2003;). As I have argued elsewhere (Gill,2002)
the increasing prevalence of informal practices for hiring staff or issuing contracts raises
grave concerns for equal opportunities concerns that are extremely difficult to contest or
even discuss, because of the lack of transparency in the process. Similarly the 'flexibility' of
new media work does not necessarily serve equality well. As Diane Perrons (1999) has noted,
„there is a flexible discourse of flexibility‟ and invariably this was not determined in workers
interest. Round-the-clock working in order to finish a project did not suit all workers and this
was perceived as a particular problem for those with -- or contemplating having -- children.
Disproportionately this impacted women (though some men were also aware of it).
Sonia:We are trying to have a baby, so then we will see. I definitely want to keep on working
and have my own income. I hope it won't get less. So I think I'll bring the baby to the creche.
But frankly I have no idea. I am a bit afraid and I think nothing is arranged to women like me
who have their own companies.
Meanwhile, Sebastian reflected on the worries he and his female partner -- also involved in
new media work -- have about having a family:
‘I have a relationship with somebody. She is also involved in this work. I don't know if we are
going to have kids. It scares the living hell out of me, the whole idea. Because overwork is
just the reality of what I am doing, like all people in new media. Horrifying overwork is the
reality. Like how many hours a week? Oh man, the amount of hours I have to put in in a week
or this job -- it amounts to 2 full-time jobs easily. And I mean I am working with a very good
planner and I'm having a hell of a time keeping the hours. That is what I’m most scared of in
my personal life. The impact of having no time for a kid or... that is what I’m most scared of.
If I had some kids, boy it would be a tough life.’
Perhaps not surprisingly studies have indicated the very small proportion of women in new
media who have children (Batt et al, 1999; Gill & Dodd, 2000) and this was also the case in
my own research -- a finding that resonates with discussions of the emergence of more
complex inequalities in other fields e.g. journalism and academia.
A further distinctive contribution to inequality in new media work is what I have called
elsewhere 'postfeminist problem', namely the increasing 'unspeakability' of structural
inequalities (Tyler & Gill, forthcoming). This 'unspeakability of inequality' could be seen in
relation to race and ethnic minorities too. In my research it was clear that interviewees had a
deep attachment to the notion of the field as 'diverse' and 'egalitarian' with success based
solely on merit. This led to a reluctance, even a refusal, to see or speak of inequalities. It was
striking, for example, that only three interviewees (out of 34) mentioned the overall
dominance of white people in the new media scene in Amsterdam -- despite direct invitations
to reflect upon this. But a black respondent, Stefan, told us how potential clients could 'hear'
his non-whiteness, and how he then had to expend a great deal of time and energy elaborating
on his background -- only to frequently not get a callback:
'Well I am Surinami and people who call me hear that I am Surinami. Then I usually have to
explain the even though my name is Stefan I am not Dutch. If need be I will tell them my life
story. People try to put you in categories but they can't put me in a category. It's simply
impossible. I want to be able to work with everybody, Dutch and Surinami. Not for one
specific target group'
Another relatively recent arrival to Amsterdam commented: 'At xx (major new media
company) where I worked before, all the cleaners, waiters and security guards had brown
skin and brown faces, and all the web designers had blond hair and blue eyes' (Michael). It is
striking that two of the three people who commented on this issue were themselves
immigrants to the Netherlands; it simply did not seem to be visible or worthy of comment to
others among our participants -- a tendency which tells us a great deal about the
normalisation and power of whiteness.
10. No future
Finally, one striking finding from my research has been the inability of workers to imagine-
realistically their futures. Towards the end of the interviews, I asked a seemingly
innocuous question: 'what do you think you'll be doing in five years time?'. Anyone who has
ever been interviewed for a position in a large company or public sector organisation will
recognise this as one of a number of standard enquiries. In occupations like law or teaching
or sales the preferred response is clear: you must express ambition, a desire to move up the
hierarchy, a wish to be successful. Asking the same question of new media workers, however,
produced perplexing answers. Respondents would either point to imagined futures
characterised by lifestyles of wealth and glamour ('sipping champagne on my yacht') or,
alternately, they would depict no future at all ('I really have no clue. I can't see myself
continuing'). Occasionally, a single individual might offer both kinds of response. Early on in
his interview, Robert told us 'at some point I'll need a BV in the Cayman Islands. I have had
my own company for 10 years now'. By the end of the interview, he said: 'I am in serious
financial trouble... I got extra money from the tax office last year because I made so little'
Elsewhere (Gill, forthcoming) I discuss in detail these polarised responses that, on the one
hand, fantasise a life of extreme success with all its trappings, and on the other complete
failure or even a void as new media workers could seemingly not articulate any sense of their
future. I argue that for these workers material conditions of radical uncertainty lead to an
inability to project ahead into the future in a realistic or meaningful way, and suggest that this
constitutes one of the new but hidden injuries of precarious work.
Managing the self: when ‘life is a pitch’
In their book Managing Creativity: the dynamics of work and organisations Howard Davis
and Richard Scase ask an important question: 'what should replace the management
principles and practices inherited from industrial society in the organisations which
predominate in post-industrial society?' (2000:ix) Research on new media work suggests that
older established management practices have little role in contemporary precarious working
lives. In their place, a different form of management has taken hold -- a management of the
self, in which power operates not through formal, top-down structures or bureaucratic
rationalities but through technologies of selfhood in which a novel form of worker-
subjectivity is incited into being. These technologies of the self,
'permit individuals to effect, by their own means or with the help of others , a certain number
of operations on their own bodies and souls, thoughts, conduct and way of being, so as to
transform themselves' (Foucault, 1988)
In this new neoliberal form of governmentality new media workers are constituted as
autonomous, self-regulating, responsibilised subjects. If the superficial bohemian chic of new
media workplaces suggests relaxed informality, this is only part of the story; beyond the
significations of play an intense self-discipline is required. However, this is not self-
discipline as it is traditionally understood (early mornings, cold showers and highly polished
shoes are not required!), but a much more thoroughgoing, wholesale management of the self,
which requires the radical remaking of subjectivity. It may not even be experienced as such --
indeed, it's much more likely to be understood as simply 'the way things are'. As Kristoff put
it: 'you take care of yourself'.
In new media work there is a great deal to take care of -- particularly, but not exclusively --
for those freelancing or setting up micro-businesses. You are required to train yourself, keep
up-to-date, find or create your own work, monitor your progress, compare yourself with
others, anticipate what will come next, maintain your distinct reputation, meet deadlines
whatever costs they exert on your body or relationships, prepare for contingencies such as
illness, injury or old age, make contacts, network and socialise, and to do all of this in an
atmosphere in which your success or failure is understood in entirely individualistic terms.
As Nikolas Rose has put it, contemporary neoliberal subjects 'bear the serious burdens of
liberty'; however implacable the constraints upon the may be, it is their responsibility to
render their lives meaningful as if each life trajectory were 'the outcome of individual choices
made in the furtherance of a biographical project self-realisation' (Rose, 1996; see also
Walkerdine, Lucey and Melody, 2001)
There is no time when you can switch off, because all of life has become a „social factory‟
(Tronti 1966), an opportunity for work. Whoever you meet, wherever you go a friend‟s
wedding, a high-school reunion, a cycling holiday with friends represents a possible
opportunity. There is no „outside‟ to work, as one of our interviewees put it: „life itself is a
I am very grateful to Danielle van Diemen for assistance in carrying out the interviews from
which I cite. Thanks also to Andy Pratt for his help and support. Finally I‟d like to express
my appreciation to Mark Deuze for his excellent skills as an editor and good-naturedness in
the face of my very late submission of this chapter (which was produced under conditions not
unlike the ones described here!)
Further readings
Banks, M. (2007). The politics of cultural work. Basingstoke ; New York: Palgrave
Deuze, M. (2007). Media work. Cambridge: Polity.
Kennedy, H (in press) Network: web design and the making of the www, Polity, Cambridge
Ross, A. (2009) Nice work if you can get it : life and labor in precarious times. New York
University Press, New York ; London.
Adkins. L (2008) „Creativity, biography and the time of individualisation‟ paper presented at
Creative Biographies Seminar, Open University, May 2008
Banks, M. (2007). The politics of cultural work. Basingstoke ; New York: Palgrave
Banks, M. and D. Hesmondhalgh (2009) Looking for work in creative industries policy.
International Journal of Cultural Policy 15, 415 - 30.
Banks, M and Milestone, K (2009) Individuation, gender and cultural work (in press)
Batt, R., Christopherson, S., & Rightor, N. (1999). Net-working: working life in a project
based industry: a collaborative study of people working in new media in New York.
Ithaca, NY: Cornell University.
Beck, U. (2000). The brave new world of work. Cambridge: Polity.
Blair, H. (2001). ''You're only as good as your last job': the labour process and labour market
in the British film industry', Work, Employment and Society, 15(1), 149-169.
Bronson, P. (1999) The nudist on the late shift. Secker & Warburg, London.
Caves, R. E. (2000). Creative industries: contracts between art and commerce. Harvard:
Harvard University Press.
de Peuter, G., & Dyer-Witheford, N. (2006). 'A playful multitude? Mobilising and counter-
mobilising immaterial game labour', fibreculture(5).
Davis, H.H. and R. Scase (2000) Managing creativity : the dynamics of work and
organization. Open University Press, Buckingham.
Deuze, M. (2007). Media work. Cambridge: Polity.
Florida, R. L. (2002). The rise of the creative class: and how it's transforming work, leisure,
community and everyday life. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Giddens, A. (2002) Runaway world : how globalisation is reshaping our lives. Profile,
Gill, R. (2002). 'Cool creative and egalitarian? Exploring gender in project-based new media
work in Europe', Information, communication and society, 5(1), 70-89.
Gill, R. (2007). Technobohemians or the new cybertariat? New media work in Amsterdam a
decade after the web, Network Notebooks. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures.
Gill, R. and Dodd, D. (2000) New Media: Working Practices in the Electronic Arts, Final
report submitted to Directorale General V, European Commission, Brussels.
Gill, R. and A. Pratt (2008) In the Social Factory?: Immaterial Labour, Precariousness and
Cultural Work. Theory Culture Society 25, 1-30.
Gottschall, K., & Kroos, D. (2007). 'Self-employment in comparative perspectives: general
trends and the case of new media' in C. Fagan, L. McDowell, D. Perrons, K. Ray & K.
Ward (eds), Gender Divisions in the New Economy: changing patterns of work, care
and public policy in Europe and North America. London: Edward Elgar.
Jarvis, H., & Pratt, A. C. (2006). 'Bringing it all back home: the extensification and
'overflowing' of work. The case of San Francisco's new media households',
Geoforum, 37(3), 331-339.
Kennedy, H (in press) Network: web design and the making of the www, Polity, Cambridge
Kotamraju, N. (2002). 'Keeping up: Web design skill and the reinvented worker',
Information, Communication & Society, 5(1), 1-26.
Leadbeater, C., & Oakley, K. (1999). The new independents - Britain's new cultural
Mayerhofer, E., & Mokre, M. (2007). 'The creative industries in Austria: The glories of the
past vs. the uncertainties of the present', pp. 141-150 in G. Lovink & N. Rossiter
(eds), My creativity reader: a critique of the creative industries. Amsterdam: Institute
of Network Cultures.
McRobbie, A. (2002). 'From Holloway to Hollywood: Happiness at work in the new cultural
economy', pp. 97-114 in P. du Gay & M. Pryke (eds), Cultural economy. London:
McRobbie, A. (2003). 'Club to company', Cultural studies, 16(4), 516-531.
McRobbie, A (2006) “Creative London – Creative Berlin.” Online. September 2006.
(Available: accessed June 20 2008)
McRobbie, A. (2007) The Los Angelisation of London. Three short-waves of young people‟s
micro-economies of culture and creativity in the UK., Eipcp
Neff, G., Wissinger, E., & Zukin, S. (2005). 'Entrepreneurial labour among cultural
producers: "cool” jobs in "hot" industries', Social Semiotics, 15(3), 307-334.
Nixon, S and Crewe, B (2004) „Pleasure at work? Gender consumption and work based
identities in the creative industries, Consumption, Markets and Culture 7.2: 129-147
Perrons, D. (1999). 'Flexible working patterns and equal opportunities in the European
Union: conflict or compatibility?', European Journal of Women's Studies, 391-418.
Perrons, D. (2003). 'The new economy and the work life balance. A case study of the new
media sector in Brighton and Hove', Gender work and organisation, 10(1), 65-93.
Pink, D. H. (2001). Free agent nation : how America's new independent workers are
transforming the way we live. New York: Warner Books.
Pratt, A. C. (2002). 'Hot jobs in cool places. The material cultures of new media product
spaces: the case of the south of market, San Francisco', Information, communication
and society, 5(1), 27-50.
Pratt, A. C., Gill, R. C., & Spelthann, V. (2007). 'Work and the city in the e-society: A critical
investigation of the socio-spatially situated character of economic production in the
digital content industries, UK.', Information, Communication & Society, 10(6), 921-
Rose, N.S. (1996) Inventing our selves : psychology, power and personhood. Cambridge
University Press, Cambridge.
Ross, A (2000) „The mental labour problem‟ Social text 18.2: 7-34
Ross, A. (2003). No-collar : the humane workplace and its hidden costs. New York, NY:
Basic Books.
Ross, A. (2009) Nice work if you can get it : life and labor in precarious times. New York
University Press, New York ; London.
Terranova, T. (2004). Network Culture: Politics for the information age. London: Pluto
Tyler, I and Gill, R (forthcoming) „The unspeakability of inequality‟ (under submission)
Ursell, G. (2000). 'Television production: issues of exploitation, commodification and
subjectivity in UK television markets', Media Culture & Society, 22(6), 805-825.
Walkerdine, V., Lucey, H., & Melody, J. (2001). Growing up girl : psychosocial explorations
of gender and class. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Work Foundation (2007) Staying ahead: the economic performance of the UK’s creative
industries, Work Foundation, London
... These transformations are rooted in the liberalization of markets and the fraying of welfare states in large parts of the world, thereby greatly enhancing the economic insecurity of cultural labor. Such labor, to be sure, was never secure in the first place (Blair, 2001;Gill, 2011;McRobbie, 2016). That said, we will argue that platformization entails a further intensification of these broader trends, generating new sets of tensions. ...
... That is to say, the precarity that platform-dependent creative laborers experience is by no means unprecedented; rather, intermittent, piecemeal "gigs," long hours for low pay, and a lack of benefits are longstanding features of employment in the cultural industries (McRobbie, 2016;Neff et al., 2005). The cultural industries, moreover, have progressively supplanted on-the-job training with a go-at-it-alone, or "DIY" style of training and upkeep (Gill, 2011). Perhaps not surprisingly, such implicit job requirements tend to pose high barriers to entry for career aspirants who lack sufficient reserves of cultural and/or economic capital (Friedman et al., 2017;O'Brien et al., 2016). ...
The widespread uptake of digital platforms – from YouTube and Instagram to Twitch and TikTok – is reconfiguring cultural production in profound, complex, and highly uneven ways. Longstanding media industries are experiencing tremendous upheaval, while new industrial formations – live-streaming, social media influencing, and podcasting, among others – are evolving at breakneck speed. Poell, Nieborg, and Duffy explore both the processes and the implications of platformization across the cultural industries, identifying key changes in markets, infrastructures, and governance at play in this ongoing transformation, as well as pivotal shifts in the practices of labor, creativity, and democracy. The authors foreground three particular industries – news, gaming, and social media creation – and also draw upon examples from music, advertising, and more. Diverse in its geographic scope, Platforms and Cultural Production builds on the latest research and accounts from across North America, Western Europe, Southeast Asia, and China to reveal crucial differences and surprising parallels in the trajectories of platformization across the globe. Offering a novel conceptual framework grounded in illuminating case studies, this book is essential for students, scholars, policymakers, and practitioners seeking to understand how the institutions and practices of cultural production are transforming – and what the stakes are for understanding platform power.
... Les personnes évoluant dans les industries créatives sont membres de la « classe créative » évoquée par Richard Florida (2002), et parfois considérées comme les « travailleurs modèles » du futur : autodidactes, autogérés, entreprenants, habitués à des emplois précaires, tout en restant motivés à produire des oeuvres à succès (Gill, 2010 (Sandoval, 2016). En effet, selon Miya Tokumitsu, « rien ne rend l'exploitation plus facile que de convaincre les travailleurs qu'ils font ce qu'ils aiment » (Tokumitsu, 2014, p. 14). ...
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S'inscrivant dans une perspective critique et s'appuyant sur une démarche compréhensive, cette contribution entend amorcer une réflexion sur le travail créatif dans le contexte de la Covid-19 sur les personnes travaillant dans les industries créatives. Les individus évoluant dans ces secteurs sont souvent des travailleurs autonomes cumulant divers contrats précaires, étant alors responsables de leur propre employabilité, en référence au concept de « production de soi » proposé par André Gorz. Nous mobilisons le concept de « métatravail », c'est-à-dire de travail permettant le travail selon Salzman & Palen (2004), afin de comprendre comment entretenir sa créativité devient un outil du « métatravail » des travailleurs et travailleuses qui doivent produire leur propre employabilité. Nos données empiriques issues d'entretiens qualitatifs avec six personnes travaillant dans les industries créatives au Québec et en France ont permis de dégager des axes d'analyse, selon une méthode de théorie ancrée. Cela nous a permis de comprendre l'entretien de la créativité comme condition de l'employabilité au prisme de ce que nous appelons un « métatravail créatif ». Cette recherche, s'inscrivant dans le contexte distancié de la Covid-19, a révélé que les métiers créatifs auraient été plus touchés que ceux des autres industries, puisque la distance a rendu encore plus difficile le « métatravail créatif » consistant à nourrir leur créativité lors d'expériences et interactions informelles.
... Based on this promise, Dave Shea, a blogger with a "background in both coding and visual arts" (Shea & Holzschlag, 2005, p. 13), created the CSSZG as a side or hobby project (unpaid 'side projects' could be said to reflect the values of web designers: see Gill (2010)). He was inspired by previous demonstrations of the value of CSS with the aim of creating "a central repository of great CSS design work" (ibid. ...
... Neoliberal women entrepreneurs see themselves as independent, autonomous, gaining control, confident, anchoring new freedoms, and self-regulated individuals who work relentlessly without any outside influence to emerge as perpetually productive and uncomplaining entrepreneurs (Gill, 2011;Haugh & Talwar, 2016). Becoming a successful woman entrepreneur in the modern era, therefore, requires continuous self-analysis on the part of women themselves-it is an endeavor that takes time, effort, and most importantly, serious commitment (Butler, 2013;Lewis et al., 2017). ...
Women entrepreneurship literature has unveiled the gendered assumptions of entrepreneurship. More recently, critical woman entrepreneurship literature is increasingly focusing on the neoliberal discourses in women entrepreneurship. What remains relatively under‐explored is how women entrepreneurs experience the tensions amidst neoliberal and gendered experiences especially in the context of the Global South. Based on the narratives of middle to upper‐middle‐class women entrepreneurs in India, I find that being middle to upper‐middle‐class, women entrepreneurs shared a sense of attaining a neoliberal agency through entrepreneurship, so much so that they ignored, denied, or naturalized the gendered constraints in entrepreneurship. However, soon their accounts reflected an underlying tension as they admitted facing gendered constraints while previously denying them. I contribute to the literature of women entrepreneurship by theorizing the conflicting narratives of women entrepreneurs using the concept of liminality. In doing so, I extend the concept of liminality as an in‐between position of neoliberal and gendered experiences.
... La première chose que vous remarquez lorsque vous parlez à un journaliste est qu'il aime son travail : c'est un passionné. Comme tout travailleur créatif, les journalistes sont émotivement attachés à leur travail qui leur procure liberté et autonomie (Gill, 2010). Ou peut-être n'aiment-ils pas le travail qu'ils effectuent concrètement dans les différentes salles de rédaction, mais plutôt l'image que projette leur travail et surtout l'idéal qu'il représente (Le Cam & Ruellan, 2017). ...
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Cet article s'intéresse à l'impact de la forme actuelle du capitalisme sur le procès de travail journalistique, et plus particulièrement sur les subjectivités des journalistes québécois. Suivant les recherches qui analysent la mobilisation de la subjectivité des travailleurs et des travailleuses par les nouvelles formes managériales du capitalisme postfordiste, nous postulons que le procès de travail journalistique actuel produit quatre types de subjectivités qui se superposent de manière cyclique : Le Passionné, le Surchargé, le Méritocratisé et le Déprimé. Ce cycle de subjectivités mène graduellement vers un processus de décomposition de classe, la sortie du métier étant une quête d'un cycle de subjectivités plus supportable. Abstract This article examines the impact of the current form of capitalism on the journalistic labour process, and more specifically on the subjectivities of Quebec journalists. Following the research which analyzes the mobilization of the subjectivity of workers by the new managerial forms of post-Fordist capitalism, we postulate that the current journalistic labour process produces four types of subjectivities which are superimposed in a cyclical way: the Passionate, the Overloaded, the Meritocratized and the Depressed. This cycle of subjectivities gradually leads to a process of class decomposition. Leaving the profession is a quest for a more liveable cycle of subjectivities.
... Thus, in the discourse of legitimation of the field, legitimation and economic success (which should be opposed to each other) are made compatible: the indie games that have become part of the canon have accrued both symbolic and economic capital in the short run. Hence, the figure of the indie game designer merges the traits of the artist and the entrepreneur (see also Juul, 2019;and Pérez Latorre, 2016), a liminal and ambiguous position that makes it relevant for exploring contemporary 'mythologies of creative work' (Gill, 2010;McRobbie, 2016). ...
The main aim of this chapter is to analyse how authorship is defined and constructed in media discourses about European videogames. To fulfil this aim, a study is conducted on how both European indie and AAA-game creators and studios (Sam Barlow, The Chinese Room, Playdead, Tomas Sakalauskas, and David Cage) are portrayed in spe- cialised magazines. By doing so, this chapter will examine how the rules of cultural production are adapted to the field of videogames, as well as its ideological implications. On the one hand, videogame designers as auteurs are key figures in understanding contemporary work imaginaries. On the other, this chapter shows that reproducing traditional definitions of authorship entails problematic implications regarding power, authority, and gender.
Introducción: Los influencers se han convertido en nuevos prescriptores y trabajadores digitales que construyen comunidades digitales sólidas para los anunciantes. Los microinfluencers (5.000 - 40.000 seguidores) son utilizados por las marcas para impactar en comunidades digitales pequeñas con un alto grado de compromiso. Esta investigación explora la relación entre la inversión de tiempo, el impacto digital y la remuneración económica de la actividad de los microinfluencers para identificar nuevas formas de precariedad laboral en el ámbito digital. Metodología: Se han estudiado 34 microinfluencers a través de dos técnicas: la monitorización de sus perfiles digitales para calcular sus KPI (ej. engagement y EMV), y a través de un cuestionario destinado a conocer su satisfacción, tiempo invertido y remuneración económica. Además, se ha realizado un segundo estudio sobre la actividad digital de 21 influencers celebridades. Resultados y discusión: El análisis de los datos indica que los microinfluencers están insatisfechos debido a tres factores: la relación entre el tiempo invertido y la remuneración económica, la necesidad de crear publicaciones sin generar ingresos y la desproporcionada relación entre el tamaño de su comunidad, el vínculo que producen con sus seguidores y los beneficios en comparación con las celebridades influencers. Conclusiones: Las conclusiones contribuyen a la literatura precedente sobre la falsa meritocracia del éxito en redes sociales y confirman la retribución a través de visibilidad y capital social a costa de la precariedad de las condiciones laborales dentro de una economía liderada por las plataformas digitales.
There has been a recent proliferation of scholarly interest in the impacts of platformization on cultural industries and labor. This article draws on a longitudinal ethnographic study of the London- and Los Angeles-based influencer community industries (2017–2022) to consider the ways in which the platformized creative worker marks an intensification of the neoliberal worker subject as theorized in more traditional cultural industries. I argue that this industry marks an escalation of conditions of precarity; this research found that the working lives of most content creators are fraught with stress and burnout, and smaller creators in particular are subject to algorithmic discrimination in an industry where visibility is key to success. Contrary to highly celebratory discourses that position online content creation as more open and meritocratic than traditional cultural industries, this is an advertising-driven industry that propels the most profitable creators into the spotlight, resulting in the closing down of mobility. I conclude by considering the opportunities and challenges for reducing this widespread precarity via collective action and regulation.
Project-based and short-term employment is widespread in the contemporary labor market, yet existing theories of social capital often rely on an organizationally bound model of work and careers. In this paper, we expand this perspective by examining the case of precarious employment in a creative industry to ask, what kinds of social ties promote or constrain workers’ opportunities? We examine networks among fashion models, a case of project-based freelance labor. Using ethnographic accounts of fashion shows and castings, as well as a unique longitudinal dataset of careers and networks in fashion modeling, we develop the notion of “transitory ties” to account for the short-term, fleeting, and highly valuable social relations that models form recurrently on jobs. We adopt a network ecology perspective on transitory ties by showing how contextual factors drive their formation, and ultimately broader network structures that have tremendous consequences for models’ careers.
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As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe, the lockdown, isolation, and quarantine restrictions which were put in place in many countries obliged many people to begin working from home. Concurrently, advice in the form of articles and social media posts emerged, urging people to use the ‘opportunity’ of isolation during the pandemic to engage in self-improvement activities or launch a business. In this paper, I consider the ways that the temporal collapse between private and work life can be seen to exacerbate the degree to which these productivity discourses played upon neoliberal conceptions of identity formation through self-commodification and optimisation. The discourses frequently used a combination of shame and the suggestion that productivity was an obligation to the community, as well as to the self, to justify themselves and make finding purchase to engage in a critique of the broader structural issues at play more rhetorically difficult.
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This article compares the work of fashion models and “new media workers” (those who work in the relatively new medium of the Internet as dot-com workers) in order to highlight the processes of entrepreneurial labor in culture industries. Based on interviews and participant-observation in New York City, we trace how entrepreneurial labor becomes intertwined with work identities in cultural industries both on and off the job. While workers are drawn to the autonomy, creativity and excitement that jobs in these media industries can provide, they have also come to accept as normal the high risks associated with this work. Diffused through media images, this normalization of risk serves as a model for how workers in other industries should behave under flexible employment conditions. Using interview data from within the fashion media and the dot-com world, we discuss eight forces that give rise to the phenomenon of entrepreneurial labor: the cultural quality of cool, creativity, autonomy, self-investment, compulsory networking, portfolio evaluations, international competition, and foreshortened careers. We also provide a model of what constitutes the hierarchy of “good work” in cultural industries, and we conclude with implications of what entrepreneurial labor means for theories of work.
Self-employment is an increasingly prominent development within the context of the new economy and a feature of national labour markets. During the 1980s and 1990s most OECD countries saw a notable rise in self-employment outside of agriculture1 both in absolute terms as well as a proportion of total employment (amounting to 6.7 per cent on average for the years 1995–9). This development can be considered as new in so far as it reverses the long-standing decline of traditional forms of self-employment associated with agriculture and small craft businesses and seems to reestablish a somehow ‘pre-industrial’ employment pattern in expanding modern service industries. Indeed, self-employment in the cultural industry and other growing sectors of the new economy seems to gain in importance when compared to the industrial sector (cf. among others European Commission 2001b; Serrano-Pascual and Mósesdóttir 2003). Another feature of new self-employment in some countries is the rapidly expanding incidence of solo self-employment or freelancing.2 Both in the UK and the US self-employed workers without employees have traditionally predominated. In Germany it was the growth of this employment form, which led to the spike in overall self-employment (cf. Kim and Kurz 2001; OECD 2000a). But the incidence of solo self-employment fuels debate over the significance and meaning of the trend.
Is job insecurity the new norm? With fewer and fewer people working in steady, long-term positions for one employer, has the dream of a secure job with full benefits and a decent salary become just that-a dream? In Nice Work If You Can Get It, Andrew Ross surveys the new topography of the global workplace and finds an emerging pattern of labor instability and uneven development on a massive scale. Combining detailed case studies with lucid analysis and graphic prose, he looks at what the new landscape of contingent employment means for workers across national, class, and racial lines-from the emerging "creative class" of high-wage professionals to the multitudes of temporary, migrant, or low-wage workers. Developing the idea of "precarious livelihoods" to describe this new world of work and life, Ross explores what it means in developed nations-comparing the creative industry policies of the United States, United Kingdom, and European Union, as well as developing countries-by examining the quickfire transformation of China's labor market. He also responds to the challenge of sustainability, assessing the promise of "green jobs" through restorative alliances between labor advocates and environmentalists. Ross argues that regardless of one's views on labor rights, globalization, and quality of life, this new precarious and "indefinite life," and the pitfalls and opportunities that accompany it is likely here to stay and must be addressed in a systematic way. A more equitable kind of knowledge society emerges in these pages-less skewed toward flexploitation and the speculative beneficiaries of intellectual property, and more in tune with ideals and practices that are fair, just, and renewable.
This article analyses the features and conditions presently characterizing work and employment for freelance workers in UK television production. It does so at two levels: one is middle range in its theorization and evidentially grounded; the other, at a higher level of abstraction, ponders the most appropriate way to approach and comprehend these findings in a broader socio-historical context. At the middle and grounded level, the article argues that:
The "creative industries" and the dispositions of creative workers have acquired a new salience and significance within both sociological and business orientated commentaries in recent years. This has included an attention to the apparently hybrid character of "creative work" and the way this informs the ideal of the self-expressive creative worker. Our paper takes these claims as its starting point and seeks to render more concrete discussions of these areas of work which have often been treated in an overly synthetic way. Drawing on our earlier research, we explore how two sets of creative workers in advertising and magazine publishing handled the ideal of the creative worker and the fun and funky image of these areas of work. Foregrounding questions of gender and, specifically, masculinity, we detail the subjective investment of these practitioners within particular forms of masculinity and consider the way, through this, gender was written into the creative cultures of advertising and magazine publishing. In exploring these themes, our aim is to disrupt the progressive narratives into which creative workers have often been inserted and to emphasise the endurance of some rather old productivist ideas of work within these sectors.