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Title: The politics of expertise in cultural labour
Author: Patel, Karen
ISNI:       0000 0004 7426 3954
Awarding Body: Birmingham City University
Current Institution: Birmingham City University
Date of Award: 2018
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What is expertise? In cultural work, the idea of expertise is commonly associated with a specialised knowledge of cultural forms and products, often possessed by art critics, dealers and cultural intermediaries. In the majority of literature on cultural work, the status of these 'experts' is mostly treated as normative and accepted as legitimate, with little attention paid to the expertise of the primary producers of the cultural forms which are judged. This thesis argues that expertise as a concept is taken for granted in cultural work scholarship, and thus requires further interrogation. The particular focus here is on the social media use of cultural workers to promote themselves, their aesthetic output and availability for work. As argued here, the status of their expertise is problematised in an ostensibly accessible and democratised space where 'anyone' can engage in cultural production. In this context, how do cultural workers signal their aesthetic expertise online? Signalling involves conveying information about one's credentials. This concept is utilised in a framework to analyse the social media output of a group of UK cultural workers, who were also interviewed, in order to gain insight into their aesthetic expertise and how they manage signalling expertise online as part of cultural labour. The research reveals the expertise of cultural producers to be of a dynamic and fluid quality, worked on over the course of a cultural work career, where opportunities to build expertise can be constrained or enabled depending on access to resources. As these cases suggest, aesthetic expertise can be staged on social media by revealing creative skills and methods - the 'back stage' of production, then potentially enhanced through audience interaction, which can also put expertise signals at risk. The analysis also reveals gendered strategies for signalling expertise undertaken by the women cultural workers, to facilitate a potential collective raising of visibility online, but also raising questions about the exclusivity of such collective activity. The research concludes by suggesting ways in which cultural policy could widen access to creative skills and training, so that anyone who wishes to develop their own aesthetic expertise can do so.
Supervisor: Long, Paul ; Banks, Mark Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: L300 Sociology ; P300 Media studies