Archive for 2021

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[Commlist] New book: Creative Control: The Ambivalence of Work in the Culture Industries

Wed Mar 24 13:06:44 GMT 2021

Michael Siciliano just published a comparative ethnography of creative labor in popular music and digital content production entitled /Creative Control: The Ambivalence of Work in the Culture Industries <> /with Columbia University press/. /It may be of interest to some subscribers to this list.

Below is the overview and reviews from the back of the book from CUP:

/Workers in cultural industries often say that the best part of their job is the opportunity for creativity. At the same time, profit-minded managers at both traditional firms and digital platforms exhort workers to “be creative.” Even as cultural fields hold out the prospect of meaningful employment, they are marked by heightened economic precarity. What does it mean to be creative under contemporary capitalism? And how does the ideology of creativity explain workers’ commitment to precarious jobs?

Michael L. Siciliano draws on nearly two years of ethnographic research as a participant-observer in a Los Angeles music studio and a multichannel YouTube network to explore the contradictions of creative work. He details how such workplaces feature engaging, dynamic processes that enlist workers in organizational projects and secure their affective investment in ideas of creativity and innovation. Siciliano argues that performing creative labor entails a profound ambivalence: workers experience excitement and aesthetic engagement alongside precarity and alienation. Through close comparative analysis, he presents a theory of creative labor that accounts for the roles of embodiment, power, alienation, and technology in the contemporary workplace.

Combining vivid ethnographic detail and keen sociological insight, Creative Control explains why “cool” jobs help us understand how workers can participate in their own exploitation./

    Film and media scholars who study industries must read /Creative
    //Control/. Siciliano leverages cultural sociology and meticulous
    ethnography to masterfully unpack the considerable contradictions of
    media creation in the platform era. His focus on creative
    routinization exposes film studies' exceptionalism as a strawman,
    ill-equipped to make sense of online media. *
    John T. Caldwell, author of /Production Culture: Industrial
    Reflexivity and Critical Practice in Film/Television/*
    With /Creative Control/, Michael Siciliano joins the finest of
    ethnographic traditions—the study of labor in our times. This fresh
    perspective on cultural work unpacks the reality behind our
    algorithmically defined entertainment future, the content treadmill
    that seduced the emotional and professional repertoire of a
    generation. *
    Melissa Gregg, author of /Counterproductive: Time Management in the
    Knowledge Economy/*
    Siciliano’s thoughtful, compelling book deserves to be a major
    reference point in studies of creative labor and in research on work
    in an age of digital platforms. It combines careful ethnography with
    an impressive range of reading to provide fresh perspectives on
    longstanding problems of alienation, exploitation, and control. *
    David Hesmondhalgh, University of Leeds*
    Some scholars argue that creative work enlivens local economies,
    while others emphasize that it exemplifies the precarious employment
    spreading across national economies. Siciliano deftly navigates
    those divergent depictions by turning to the workers
    themselves—illuminating the attraction that creativity holds for
    them, as well as the challenges it brings. As a result, he
    rightfully moves us from abstract notions of creative work to the
    embodied and everyday activity that it actually entails. *
    Timothy J. Dowd, Emory University

    *Michael Siciliano's book is a must-read for anyone interested in
    the culture industries. This ethnography documents firsthand how
    various actors within culture-producing firms grapple over power,
    profits, and final products. What we create and consume, /Creative
    Control/ convincingly demonstrates, derives as much from collective
    control as it does individual creativity. *
    Jeffrey J. Sallaz, author of /Lives on the Line: How the Philippines
    became the World's Call Center Capital/*

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