History & Context of the Creative Industries: The Precariat & the Creative Industries

Working in the Creative Industries today


What is the Precariat?


The Precariat – an emerging class, comprising the rapidly growing number of people facing lives of insecurity, moving in and out of jobs that give little meaning to their lives.

Many now feel that the economic landscape is now dominated by McJobs (McDonald’s: low-paid, low-skilled service sector work, often short-term and with very little prospects) and growing job insecurity. The growth of agency work, outsourcing and privatisation, coupled with growing job losses, has also added to a feeling that there are no decent permanent jobs left.

As the world’s labour supply quadrupled, an extra two billion people have become part of the global labour market.

The precariat consists of millions of people dealing with unstable living and labour, permanent insecurity and uncertainty. They are the first class in history whose level of education is higher than the level of labour they can expect to obtain. They do a lot of work which isn’t or is barely recognised and remunerated and are constantly on the edge of unsustainable debt, on mistake or illness could send them to the streets. They have to rely on money wages as, contrary to the salariat, they have no access to paid leaves, medical leaves, pensions etc …

According to Guy Standing, the precariat is split into three factions:

→ The Atavists whose families or communities used to have occupations, pride and status (miners, dockers, etc …). They possess a sense of a relative deprivation of a lost past.

Split into three factions

→ The migrants, the roamer, the minorities, the refugees which he calls the nostalgics for they have no sense of home. They keep their heads down to survive.

→ The progressives go to college or university. They are told that they have a future until they come out and the only thing they have, besides a lack of future, is debt.

We have to build a new income distribution system starting with a basic income. Basic income does not make people lazy, apparently quite the contrary. Guy Standing affirms that with a basic income, people will work more. First of all, I suppose you don’t spend half of your time being brought down by anxiety and uncertainty. Second of all, you work more to improve. And as a bonus, people are more likely to become respectable and decent beings and it makes sense. Once you have basic security, you become more altruistic than others, more tolerant and more inclined to engage in society because you no longer stress about your own situation, sure it can be improved but it is no longer a matter of having a roof over your head or not.

Image result for uk creative industries 2017 infographic

Image result for uk creative industries 2017 infographic

HBR Article on Surviving the Gig Economy

150 million workers are freelance in the Western world.

→ Costs include unpaid leave, sickness cover, loss of pension benefits and the trying to be paid for completed work while finding new work.


What is Creativity? And what are the Creative Industries?

Creativity, once associated with the ‘natural’ or ‘acquired’ fits of the artist, has expanded to include virtually all the performative labours producing the information economy, from computer coding to legal research.

We still have romantic notions of creativity …

Creative work retains some of its elite associations as positive and special; it is understood to offer the possibility of personal fulfilment or self-actualization, albeit in return for considerable hard work and an absence of financial security.

Nesta (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) is an innovation foundation based in the UK whose goal is to promote innovation across a broad range of sectors.

Following new research from Nesta, in partnership with the Creative Industries Council, it has been revealed that local economies have grown their creative industries employment by an average of 11%, twice as far as other sectors which experience, o average, 5.5% of growth.

According to Nesta, there were 162 000 new employees in the UK creative industries between 2011-2014 and 2015-2016, which, should it continue to grow at the same pace, could create 900 000 new jobs between 2013 and 2030.


Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said:

“The creative industries are one of our strongest cultural calling cards, with British artists accounting for one in every eight album sales around the world, millions of tourists visiting Britain to see our world-leading art and design and UK-produced films regularly topping international box offices. This report confirms that we have creative talent spread right across the country and shows the sector is growing twice as fast as other industries outside of the capital. The government will do all we can, through our Industrial Strategy, to help our creative industries keep up this momentum.”


The Industry is racist & sexist.

Despite the myths of the CCI as diverse, open and egalitarian, inequalities remain a depressingly persistent feature of most fields. Whatever indices one considers –relative numbers in employment, pay, contractual status or seniority – women as a group are consistently faring worse than men. This is true in advertising, the arts, architecture, computer games development, design, film, radio and television; it is also true in ‘new’ fields such as web design, app development or multimedia.


Between 2006 and 2012, the number of BAMEs (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) working in the UK TV industry has declined by 30.9% … The total number of black and Asian people in the industry has fallen by 2000 while the industry as a whole has grown by over 4000. For every black and Asian person who lost their job, more than two white people were employed.

Image result for uk creative industries 2017 infographic

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