The main aim of this Special Issue is to shed light on the restructuring of artistic work in the context of the wider global transformations affecting the socio-economic regulation of capitalist societies, with their national or subnational variations. If occupational conditions defining artistic labour markets were considered as atypical in modern industrial societies, in contemporary post-industrial ones they become seen as paradigmatic of work in the so-called “gig economy” or “platform capitalism” (Cloonan, Williamson 2017, Srnicek 2016). High levels of unemployment, diffused precarious and undeclared work, strong seasonality, non-routine activities, emotional involvement and self-exploitation, job diversification, entrepreneurial skills and portfolio careers: those features, typically defining artistic work (Becker 1982, Menger 1999, Paradeise 1998), seem to apply to an increasing number of workers (Bertolini, Rizza 2004), especially those in the knowledge sector (Murgia et al. 2016), comprised with artists within what some authors call the new “creative class” (Florida 2002, Howkins 2001). The recent centrality recognised to creative workers in enhancing productivity within contemporary capitalist economies, however, hides the strong inequalities existing among them - especially with reference to their different situations regarding production means property and inherited cultural and economic capital (Martin-Brelot et al. 2010, O’Brien et al. 2016, Bellini et al. 2018). Adopting this perspective, the “creative class” concept seems more apt to define an economic sector, than a “class” in the sociological sense, if not even to hide class oppositions within creative industries (Banks 2017). In the case of artistic work, the concept refers to a sector seen as mainly ruled by individual “talents”, thereby representing de facto the organization of artistic workplaces as a prototype of the neoliberal socioeconomical order (Banks, Hesmondhalgh 2009). Changes in the various fields of artistic work, however, do not only relate to the diffusion of a neoliberal approach in the regulation of the economy, but also to ongoing processes of cultural de/reclassification (DiMaggio 1987, 2009) or technological innovation (Williamson, Cloonan 2007, Leyshon 2009), whose influence in the different fields and contexts is a matter of empirical investigation.
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