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About this book

This volume critiques the current model of the creative economy, and considers alternative models that may point to greener, cleaner, more sustainable and socially just cultural and creative industries. Aimed at the nexus of cultural and environmental concerns, the book assesses the ways in which arts and cultural activities can help develop ideas of the ‘good life’ beyond excessive and unsustainable material consumption, and explores the complex interactions between cultural prosperity, place and the quality (and availability) of employment, leisure and the rights to self-expression. Adopting a deliberately wide and inclusive interdisciplinary and international perspective, contributors to this volume showcase current and future ways of ‘doing’ creative economy, ecologically, otherwise and differently.
In 11 chapters, the book outlines some of the most relevant arguments from among the growing literature that critically analyzes the current creative economy, with a focus on issues of gentrification, inequality and environment. This volume is timely, as it emerges into a political and economic context that is seeking desperately to ‘reboot’ the economy, re-establish ‘business as usual’ and to do so partly through significant investment and expansion in the creative economy. The book will be suitable for upper level undergraduates and postgraduates studying a wide range of topics, including: cultural and creative industries, media and communications, cultural studies, cultural policy, human geography, environmental humanities and environmental policy, and will be of further interest to arts professionals, creative economy researchers and policymakers.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Cultural Industries and Environmental Crisis: An Introduction

Culture and the arts—where they are considered at all in environmental debates—are generally viewed as either benign low carbon activities that bring pleasure and meaning, or as irrelevant in the face of existential crisis. As cultural industry scholars, we reject both these readings and instead argue for a critical consideration of the role and potential of cultural activities in the face of mounting crises, environmental and otherwise. At the very least, cultural industries are part of the way we make sense of things and sense making is as vital as ever, but in addition they are huge commercial entities, instruments of public policy across the globe, and, in some cases, major polluters and resource consumers.
Kate Oakley, Mark Banks

Chapter 2. Creative Economy, Degrowth and Aesthetic Limitation

This chapter offers a critique of current creative economy policy, and its obsession with economic growth over and above other social and ecological priorities. It explores the possibility of more ecologically sustainable and ‘degrown’ creative economies of the future—forms of cultural production and cultural policy that take seriously ecological limits and tries to imagine sustainable creative economy futures.
Mark Banks

Chapter 3. Green Accounting for a Creative Economy

This chapter explores possible business strategies that can help make the creative economy sector more environmentally sustainable. It begins with the case of Eastman Kodak, a company whose failure was rooted in its contempt for the ecosystems it inhabited. Its disregard for the environment was key to its decision to place an all-or-nothing bet on its chemical businesses over its digital innovations. This example will frame the subsequent discussion about the risks that companies face when they fail to incorporate green accounting practices into business strategies.
Richard Maxwell

Chapter 4. The Environmental Sustainability of the Music Industries

This chapter discusses the environmental sustainability of the music industries. A world where music does not have an environmental impact is a world without music. I do not want a world without music, and it is not my intention to ruin one of life’s great pleasures – the enjoyment of music – by pointing out its environmental impact. But music can be framed not just in terms of its value, but also its cost - including the whole range of production and consumption behaviours that those who participate in music often take for granted. This chapter therefore explores three key sectors of the music industries – recorded music, live music, and musical instruments – and considers them from the perspective of environmental sustainability and political ecology. It also offers a critique of the assumption that the growth of these industries is an unquestionable good.
Matt Brennan

Chapter 5. Cultural Production Beyond Extraction? A First Approach to Extractivism and the Cultural and Creative Industries in Argentina

This chapter is based on the premise that extractivism is not only an economic model but also a social, political and cultural phenomenon that affects all spheres of private and public life. In other words, we might speak of a logic of extraction. With this in mind, the chapter acts as a first approach to the question: how do the cultural and creative industries mobilize and reproduce a logic of extraction? Taking Argentina as a focus and context of enquiry, I explore this question by adopting the perspective of extractivism to discuss development and the cultural economy. I begin by discussing the concepts of development, extractivism and cultural development. I then move on to describe the setup of the cultural and creative industries in Argentina. Following this, I analyze a case of state-sponsored and culture-led gentrification in order to exemplify how the logic of extraction is mobilized in the cultural sphere. Finally, I conclude by suggesting some ways forward in thinking about cultural production beyond extraction.
Paula Serafini

Chapter 6. Interrogating Amazon’s Sustainability Innovation

Enabled by an immense system of delivery trucks, warehouses, and data centers, Amazon has emerged as one of the world’s largest consumers of energy. Predictably, the firm’s environmental record has been the subject of some debate. This chapter seeks to re-establish the material connections between firms offering e-commerce and cloud computing services and the physical world by reconsidering the ecological impacts of these business practices. Looking at Amazon’s 2017 shareholders report and a number of additional studies of the CO2 emissions associated with e-commerce, I pay particular attention to Amazon’s logistics system. In doing so, this chapter contributes to the perennial debates over the relative ecological benefits of online shopping versus conventional retail shopping.
Brett Caraway

Chapter 7. Re-thinking the Creative Economy Through Informality and Social Inclusion: Changing Policy Directions from Latin America

This chapter examines whether a focus on the informal creative economy can support peripheral cultural scenes that remain invisible to policy and society. In contexts of extreme poverty and deprivation, mobilising the idea of the ‘creative economy’ can generate resources, interest and support that would otherwise not exist, opening up greater possibilities for cultural producers and artists in shantytowns who are attempting to secure jobs in the cultural and creative sector.
Cecilia Dinardi

Chapter 8. Towards a New Paradigm of the Creative City or the Same Devil in Disguise? Culture-led Urban (Re)development and Sustainability

Recent attempts have been made by scholars and policy makers to include culture in the sustainability discourse. However, there is a general lack of empirical studies that provide enough insights to understand why culture matters for sustainability. By taking the case of De Ceuvel—a planned workplace for creative and social enterprises in a heavy polluted area in Amsterdam, this chapter aims at answering the question why do cultural and creative entrepreneurs engage in sustainability and in particular in a circular economy model.
Mariangela Lavanga, Martina Drosner

Chapter 9. Creative Labour, Metabolic Rift and the Crisis of Social Reproduction

Drawing on interviews with freelancers and creatives at graphic design, branding and advertising agencies in London and Amsterdam, this paper explores the pressures placed upon the management and performance of creative labour by sectoral and geographical contradictions centred on the urban dynamics of the creative industries. It suggests that what goes on in creative workplaces is conditioned by a web of relations external to those workplaces. These relations support the social reproduction of the workers and firms that perform and engage it, of which cities are a crucible of contestation, conflict and manifold contradictions.
Frederick Harry Pitts

Chapter 10. ‘You’re Always On, and You’re Always Lively’: Young People and Creative Work

Drawing on a 5 year research project, this chapters looks at the imaginary of the creative economy and the role it plays in the lives of young aspirant creatives. Based on interviews in very different parts of the UK—from the hyper-gentrified inner city to rural areas and a de-industrialised town—the chapter looks at how places shapes understanding of what is possible in terms of creative work and at how it intersects with social class in shaping aspiration
Anthony Killick, Kate Oakley

Chapter 11. The Green New Deal and Cultural Policy

In response to the climate emergency a growing number of researchers, journalists, economists, politicians and activists are calling for a ‘Green New Deal’ (GND). Proposing a revolution in energy, transport and communication infrastructures, the GND is a new political story – set against neoliberal accounts of the state and market-led approaches to tackling climate change. This chapter asks: what would it mean for cultural policy to contribute to the project of a GND? Building on work in which we have indicated the value of ecological language for reframing the aims and methods of cultural policy, here we introduce a new account of ‘cultural infrastructure’ and its role within cultural eco-systems. On the basis of this account, we suggest that cultural policy has the potential to play a specific and consequential role in supporting the conditions of creative democratic practice necessary to building and sustaining momentum behind a Green New Deal.
Jonathan Gross, Nick Wilson
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