Screenwriting as Creative Labour: Pedagogies, Practices and Livelihoods in the New Cultural Economy

Conor, Bridget Elizabeth. 2010. Screenwriting as Creative Labour: Pedagogies, Practices and Livelihoods in the New Cultural Economy. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis analyses screenwriting as an exemplary and idiosyncratic form of creative labour in the ‘new cultural economy’ and specifically, in the contemporary UK screen production industry. Using a critical sociological framework combined with a neo-Foucauldian understanding of work and subjectivity, a series of explicit analytical connections are made in this project, between screenwriting, creative labour and the new cultural economy. I contend that screenwriting, as a form of creative labour which in many ways eschews the term ‘creative’, is an instructive, timely case study precisely because it agitates traditional dichotomies - between creativity and craft, art and commerce, individual and collaborative work - in pedagogy and practice.

After tracing the dynamics of this form of creative work in theoretical, discursive and historical terms, I then analyse how screenwriting is constructed, taught and practiced as labour in three areas: ‘How-to’ screenwriting manuals, pedagogical locations for screenwriting in the UK and British screenwriters’ working lives. At each site, I focus on how craft and creativity are defined and experienced, how individual and collective forms of work are enacted at different locations and what implications these shifting designations have. Screenwriting within the mainstream Hollywood and British film industries in the contemporary moment demands particular and complex forms of worker subjectivity in order to distinguish it from other forms of filmmaking and writing, and to make the work knowable and do-able. I follow the voices of screenwriters and those who teach and instruct about screenwriting across the fieldwork sites and analyse the ways in which they calculate, navigate and make sense of the screen production labour market in which they are immersed. The theatrical, mythic and practical navigations of screenwriters in pedagogy and practice that are the centre of this thesis offer an antidote to impoverished, economistic readings of creativity, craft and creative labour in contemporary worlds of work.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


Screenwriting, creative labour, pedagogies, new cultural economy

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


13 March 2010

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

26 Mar 2010 15:08

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 08:19


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