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Are the creative industries meritocratic? An analysis of the 2014 British labour force survey

O'Brien, Dave, Laurison, Daniel, Miles, Andrew and Friedman, Sam (2016) Are the creative industries meritocratic? An analysis of the 2014 British labour force survey. Cultural Trends. ISSN 1469-3690

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Identification Number: 10.1080/09548963.2016.1170943


There is currently widespread concern that Britain’s cultural and creative industries (CCIs) are increasingly dominated by those from privileged class origins. This stands in stark contrast to dominant policy narratives of the CCIs as meritocratic and open to all. Until now this debate has been clouded by a relative paucity of data on class origins. However, this paper draws on new social origin data from the 2014 Labour Force Survey to provide the first large-scale, representative study of the class composition of Britain’s cultural workforce. The analysis demonstrates that CCIs show significant variation in terms of their individual ‘openness’, although there is a general under-representation of those from working class origins across the sector as a whole. This under-representation is especially pronounced in publishing and music, in contrast to, for example, craft. Moreover, even when those from working-class backgrounds enter certain CCIs, such as museums, galleries, libraries and IT, they face a ‘class origin pay gap’ compared to those from higher professional and managerial backgrounds. Finally, the paper discusses how these class inequalities in access and pay between individual CCIs point to particular occupational subcultures that resist aggregation into DCMS’ broader category of CCIs. The paper concludes by suggesting the importance of disaggregating CCIs, particularly within policymaking, and rethinking the definition and boundaries of CCIs as a meaningful category.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2016 Taylor & Francis Group
Divisions: Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Sets: Departments > Sociology
Date Deposited: 12 May 2016 09:41
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:23

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