Julius Fisher: The Best of Times, The Worst of Times: Cultural Work in the Creative Economy

School of Communication

With apologies to Charles Dickens, it is the best of times, and it is the worst of times to be a worker in today’s creative economy. It is the best of times in that the creative sector is enjoying strong and sustained growth, and creative workers are enjoying unprecedented autonomy and flexibility in their work lives. But it is the worst of times in that the price paid for this autonomy is an astounding regression in the conditions of work, which is increasingly characterized by low wages, contingency and precarity. This paper looks at this general global phenomena through the lens of a specific occupational group: video and television producers in Vancouver today. Within this group, I’ll narrow the focus further to look at a subset ignored by academic literature: politically engaged, activist producers whose work is often motivated by a desire for social change.