Reading: “Being a Creative Labourer and the Nature of Contemporary Work”, Ramon Lobato and Julian Thomas, 2015, ‘Work’ in The Informal Media Economy, Polity Press, Cambridge UK, ch.3.

I found this reading as frustrating as I did interesting. Through it, Lobato and Thomas comment on the current state of creative (amongst other) industries and the ‘informal media economy’, a term used to describe the deviant form of employment and work that many creatives will find themselves dealing with. The parts that particularly hit home for me were those which talked of self-exploitation, word of mouth employment and career instability, since I think these are the things that matter a lot for a soon-to-be graduate, going out into the field and trying to find work – likely as a freelancer. It’s something I’ve experienced already, doing free work in the hope of making some good contacts or learning some payable skills, and getting jobs through recommendations and friends that I’ve made through work, rather than through an actual interview process or job callout. And it’s always felt okay, the free work has led to paid opportunities, and I have made some really useful contacts. But there’s always that lingering thought in the back of your head that you’re being exploited, and a lot of the time I think you probably are, but without formal structures in place, such as unions, there’s no real way around this. It also makes it difficult to know how much you’re worth, when confronted with setting a fee for yourself, because so often you are given no other option that to work for cheap. I also have a problem with the idea of self-exploitation, and how far you should take your own passions and work overtime on something you have genuine interests in before it becomes damaging for you. Would I rather work longer hours on something I like, knowing that there’s some unfairness in that, or work a more comfortable, stable job I enjoy less with time for passion projects on the side? It’s very daunting, and I wish the reading had been able to answer some of the questions it posed rather than simply highlighting issues in the media economy and accentuating existing anxieties.


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