Creative Economy and Labour Precarity: A Contested Convergence

Greig de Peuter (2011) “Creative Economy and Labor Precarity: A Contested Convergence”, Journal of Communication Inquiry 35(4): 417-425.

The publication of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s trilogy coincides with the ascent of a dominant discourse on the so-called creative economy that presents media, communication, and cultural sectors as priority sites for market growth and job opportunity. Hardt and Negri’s work and the wider autonomist tradition supply elements for a counter- perspective on the vaunted creative economy. Of the vast lexicon associated with autonomist thought, two concepts—precarity and recomposition—are especially relevant to an oppositional response to the creative economy. The first part of the paper introduces a schema of precarious labour personas so to illuminate some of the multiple manifestations of labor precarity as an effect of post-Fordist exploitation. The concept of precarity is, however, more than a linguistic device highlighting labor conditions that are denied in dominant discourses on the creative economy. It also signals a promising laboratory of a recomposition of labor politics in which media and communication workers are participants. The second part of the paper therefore identifies collective responses to precarious employment, including emerging workers’ organizations and policy proposals emanating from within and beyond immaterial production milieus.

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Image credit: Giulia Forsythe, Centre for Pedagogical Innovation, Brock University; CC licensed Flickr photo by giulia.forsythe