Contested Formations of Cultural and Digital Labour - Panel Proposal

TitleContested Formations of Cultural and Digital Labour - Panel Proposal
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)de Peuter, G.
Affiliation (1st Author)Wilfrid Laurier University
Section or WGPolitical Economy Section
DateSat 29 June
Slot CodePES1b
Slot Code (Keyword)PES1b
Time of Session9:00-10:30
Session TitleContested Formations of Cultural and Digital Labour
Submission ID6104

Chair: Ergin Bulut, PhD Candidate, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, US
Discussant: To be confirmed
Labour is no longer a blind spot of political-economic research on communication, media, and culture. Over the past decade, scholarship on work, labour, and employment in the arts, media, and cultural industries has flourished. This research is, in part, a critical response to neoliberal discourses surrounding creative industries, social media, and cultural entrepreneurship that occlude the manifold inequalities characterizing these domains. Such research has renewed relevance in the context of a contemporary global political economy whose ongoing crises are accompanied by both generalizing precarity and market prospecting in sectors to which cultural and digital labour are decisive. This panel is comprised of four papers that offer historically, theoretically, and empirically informed accounts of varied formations of cultural and digital labour, with a shared emphasis on contestation and alternatives. The first paper, by Kate Oakley, addresses the nexus of cultural labour and public policy formation in the prototypical UK case. Oakley provides an historical account of how the figure of the entrepreneur and the exclusion of labour organizations affected policy. While these factors fed into inequalities along lines of gender, ethnicity, and class in cultural labour market formation, the paper identifies emerging worker organizations successfully mobilizing around workforce entry issues such as internships. The second paper, by Christian Fuchs, is an intervention in the digital labour debate. Fuchs develops an analysis of alienation and the conditions of its overcoming by drawing upon a theoretical distinction in Marx between ‘labour’ and ‘work.’ Taking up Facebook as a concrete case, the paper argues for the transformation of ‘digital labour’ into ‘digital work,’ a passage that would supplant the logic of capital and replace it with the logic of the commons. The third paper, by Kirsten Forkert, examines the austerity agenda in the UK and its contested consequences for cultural workers. Drawing on interviews with knowledge and cultural industry workers, Forkert argues austerity is not only a question of cuts to arts funding or lack of investment in the cultural industries; it is about the undermining of the social base of housing, education, and welfare benefits integral to the reproduction of cultural labour. The fourth paper, by Enda Brophy, Nicole Cohen, and Greig de Peuter, shares findings from an international study of nascent collective formations of precariously employed media and cultural workers. Informed by interviews with trade unionists and labour activists in New York, Milan, and Toronto, the paper proposes that cultural workers are at the forefront of a broader recomposition of labour politics. Creating Cultural Work: Public Policy, Inequality and the Labour Market
Kate Oakley, Professor of Cultural Policy, University of Leeds, UK What is Digital Work? What is Digital Labour?
Christian Fuchs, Professor of Social Media, Communication and Media Research Institute, University of Westminster, UK Cultural Work and Austerity
Kirsten Forkert, Department of Culture, Film and Media, University of Nottingham, UK Cultural Workers Organize: Experiments in Collective Organization in the Creative Economy
Enda Brophy, Assistant Professor, School of Communication, Simon Fraser University, Canada
Nicole Cohen, Phd Candidate, Graduate Programme in Communication and Culture, York University, Canada
Greig de Peuter, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada    

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