The gendering of work in Sheffield's Cultural Industries Quarter (CIQ)
Cultural and creative activities have been part of life since the earliest periods of human history. Their meanings and roles in society have changed over time and have been interpreted in a variety of ways by different groups of people around the world. In this thesis, I focus on the 'creative industries', a term that has only become prominent in the UK since the late 1990s, in national economic and cultural policy, and in arts and social inclusion literature. Although a lot has been written on the important role of the creative industries in the economic growth of cities, regions and the nation, there has been very little research conducted on the subject of work in the creative industries, and even less on gender and work. Thus I aim to build upon a small area of literature, by focusing on the gendering of work in the context of Sheffield's Cultural Industries Quarter, an area that houses numerous creative industries organizations. The study is based on a social constructionist epistemology. In my research I have been concerned with, and involved in, sense-making practices within creative industries discourse, including policy documents, conference proceedings and the accounts of participants that I interviewed in Sheffield's CIQ. Taking a social constructionist approach to gender means that in the thesis I present gender, not as something we inherently are, but as something that is accomplished through social interaction. The research is also informed by feminist and post-Marxist theories. The thesis focuses on two key aspects of gender at work in creative industries discourse. The first relates to the way in which the creative industries have been constructed and presented as pioneers of the 'new economy'. Creative industries policy literature uses terms such as 'enterprise', 'innovation' and 'creativity' to emphasize the economic role of the creative industries. I show how the discourse of the new economy is based on individualistic ideologies which mean that arguments and campaigns for gender equality and other aspects of social equity are undermined. The discourse of the new economy promotes a version of the ideal worker-the entrepreneur. I examine how the entrepreneur is constructed in policy literature, at conferences and through interview talk, as the archetypal individual with certain personality traits. I demonstrate that the model of the creative entrepreneur is a masculinized one, that combines with gender divisions at work and in the domestic sphere to maintain and reproduce gender inequalities in creative industries work. The second aspect of the gendering of work in the creative industries that I examine is the accounts of people working in Sheffield's CIQ. In particular I examine how they account for gender divisions and inequalities at work. I argue that the people I interviewed tended to justify gender divisions at work using a number of discursive practices. These practices draw on gendered discourses and thus contribute to maintaining and reproducing gender inequality. I also explore the examples in the accounts of resistance to gender inequality. The thesis is based on interdisciplinary research, which draws on sociology, psychology, cultural and urban studies. The aim is for the thesis to be a useful addition to critical writing on gender and work, the creative industries and enterprise culture.