Creative Labor in Cinema and Media Industries
Curtin, Michael, Sanson, Kevin, & Vanderhoef, John (2016) Creative Labor in Cinema and Media Industries. In Gabbard, Krin (Ed.) Oxford Bibliographies in Cinema and Media Studies. Oxford University Press.
The rapidly burgeoning popularity of cinema at the beginning of the 20th century favored industrialized modes of creativity organized around large production studios that could churn out a steady stream of narrative feature films. By the mid-1910s, a handful of Hollywood studios became leaders in the production, distribution, and exhibition of popular commercial movies. In order to serve incessant demand for new titles, the studios relied on a set of conventions that allowed them to regularize production and realize workplace efficiencies. This entailed a socialized mode of creativity that would later be adopted by radio and television broadcasters. It would also become a model for cinema and media production around the world, both for commercial and state-supported institutions. Even today the core tenets of industrialized creativity prevail in most large media enterprises. During the 1980s and 1990s, however, media industries began to change radically, driven by forces of neoliberalism, corporate conglomeration, globalization, and technological innovation. Today, screen media are created both by large-scale production units and by networked ensembles of talent and skilled labor. Moreover, digital media production may take place in small shops or via the collective labor of media users or fans who have attracted attention due to their hyphenated status as both producers and users of media (i.e., “prosumers”). Studies of screen media labor fall into five conceptual and methodological categories: historical studies of labor relations, ethnographically inspired investigations of workplace dynamics, critical analyses of the spatial and social organization of labor, and normative assessments of industrialized creativity.
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