Building a Creative Persona - Jobs, Markets and Exclusion in Organisations

Nugent, Emma. 2004. Building a Creative Persona - Jobs, Markets and Exclusion in Organisations. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis is an investigation of the following question: How is talent recognised in companies that see themselves as creative? Recent sociological debates about the culture industries suggest new kinds of work and work organisation, emphasising enculturation and fragmentation. They draw attention to increasingly individualised responsibility for trajectories and the significance of individual subjectivities in creative careers. My analysis draws on ethnographic data (participant observation and interviews) gathered in the London-based digital division of an international publishing company. I follow eight people, as they attempt to generate careers in the turbulent context of work in new media. I argue that, to be successful in this setting, workers had to build a creative persona. This involved adopting creativity, self-selling, passion and flexibility as elements of an individual subjectivity. However, applying the theories of Pierre Bourdieu, I seek to reassert the importance of organisations in this field and the relevance of class fractions particularly the 'new' bourgeoisie. I explore how the process of building a creative persona relies on managerial structures. I argue that creativity works to achieve and legitimate a specific kind of managerial authority rather than relating to aesthetic output. I show that in 'service' or 'support' positions, workers are effectively 'trapped' despite the apparently open and flexible working environment. The thesis is a structural analysis, within a setting that exhibits encuIturation and fragmentation. Organisational hierarchies are generated using cultural references (attributed to personalities and markets). Importantly I reveal that the labour process and market definitions work together as inclusionary and exclusionary mechanisms. By interrogating 'natural' talent in this setting I explain how the valuation of authenticity in web work contributes to the reproduction of class, gender and 'racial' differences, specifically in ways that support the 'new' bourgeoisie. I conclude my thesis by discussing how my findings impact on theories of creativity, institutional exclusion, as well as theories of the 'new' bourgeoisie. Finally I identify and explore a kind of racism without hate which is connected to the way that I theorise an en cultured organisation.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Pierre Bourdieu, creativity, talent, racism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



September 2004

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

22 May 2020 10:04

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 15:40


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