Identity-in-the-work and musicians’ struggles: The production of self-questioning identity work

Beech, Nic and Gilmore, Charlotte and Hibbert, Paul and Ybema, Sierk (2016) Identity-in-the-work and musicians’ struggles: The production of self-questioning identity work. Work, Employment and Society, 30 (3). pp. 506-522. ISSN 1469-8722

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0950017015620767

Abstract

Much literature on the cultural industries celebrates ethnicity as a source of creativity. Despite its positive connotation, this discourse reduces ethnic minority creatives to manifestations of a collective ethnic identity automatically leading to creativity, creating a paradox of creativity without a creative subject. Approaching creatives with an ethnic minority background as agents, this article investigates how they self-reflectively and purposely discursively construct ethnicity as a source of creativity in their identity work. Empirically, we analyze interviews with well-established creatives with an ethnic minority background active in Belgium. Most respondents construct their ethnic background as ‘hybrid’, ‘exotic’, or ‘liminal’ to craft an identity as creatives and claim creativity for their work. Only few refuse to discursively deploy ethnicity as a source of creativity, crafting more individualized identities as creatives. Our study contributes to the literature on power and ethnicity in the creative industries by documenting ethnic minority creatives’ discursive micro-struggle over what is creative work and who qualifies as a creative. Specifically, we show their counterpolitics of representation of ethnicity in the creative industries through the re-signification of the relation between the 'west' and the 'other' in less disadvantageous terms. Despite such re-signification, the continued relevance of the discourse of ethnicity as a key marker of difference suggests that ethnicity remains a principle of unequal organization of the creative industries.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: identity work, creative industries, musicians, struggles, tensions
Faculty: Lord Ashcroft International Business School
Depositing User: Prof Sierk Ybema
Date Deposited: 30 May 2018 14:39
Last Modified: 30 May 2018 14:39
URI: http://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/703077

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