This week’s reading is a look at the life of the creative, the worker in the more ‘creative’ jobs, like television, writing, online publishing, game development, content creation, etc. It focuses on the new work models, specifically the more informal work models with blurred lines between work, home, and leisure, in a variety of developing corporations, specifically those in ‘creative labour’ jobs. It looks in part at the positives of this, like the more relaxed routine and the informality between employees developing creative work, but has a major focus on the negatives that these kinds of models and careers can have. One of these negatives is the exploitation of employees or ‘associates’ and ‘contributors’ by employers. In these media fields, there is exploitation apparent across the entire spectrum of content creation. For freelancers, it is an apparent ‘race to the bottom’, with contracts being negotiated to those who will provide the, usually large, project at the cheapest, and large corporations employing freelancers at cent-a-word rates, or one-off sums for content that is usually not creative and sometimes borderline illegal, and very low rates thanks to a lack of unions, minimum wage, and other business laws not applying in the same way as they would for traditional, full time workers. For entrance level positions in companies, the exploitation occurs through internships, where people are brought in for unpaid work for months on end for the prospect of a position (which, at least in America, is illegal (Hickman, Blair, and Christie Thompson. “When Is It OK to Not Pay an Intern?” ProPublica. ProPublica Inc., 14 June 2013. Web)). The exploitation of full-time workers occurs thanks to unpaid overtime, forced flexible hours, and self-exploitation, in which employees force themselves to work longer and harder for less in the glamorised attempt at meeting and holding deadlines and employment.
The reading links very well to an article I read for my annotated bibliography called “When No Means No”, written by Benjamin Law (see here for that post), in which Law recounts his personal experiences with being a freelance creative, and the major strain he had to go through, a strain he put on himself sometimes so as to not die (exaggeration, but not by much). He also noted how much of the Australian workforce was working in unpaid overtime ($9471 a year) simply because it is hard to say no to the work that keeps you employed.