Art versus commerce? : the works of musicians in the field of cultural production
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Labour process theory has been a key resource for the sociological study of work for over four decades. Yet, labour process theory has been conspicuous by its absence from research into cultural labour (Banks, 2007; Dean and Jones, 2003; Hesmondhalgh and Baker et al., 2011). This thesis firstly examines value production and the dynamics of managerial control and creative autonomy within the recorded music industry. Acknowledging the weaknesses identified with “critical theory” approaches in failing to consider the “content” of cultural work (Banks, 2007; McKinlay and Smith, 2009), this thesis considers the art-commerce relation in terms of the interaction between identity, interests and habitus. The thesis draws on data collected from research participants active within the recorded music industry. The data collected consists of forty participants through thirty-one semi-structured interviews and secondary data from four group interviews. The original contribution to knowledge made by this thesis is to conceptualise the art-commerce relation in the recorded music industry as a conflict over potential exchange-value in terms of Bourdieu’s forms of capital. Empirical findings from this research show forms of managerial control consistent with responsible autonomy, simple control and bureaucratic control (Edwards, 1979; Friedman, 1977). Rather than control based on maximising economic surplus value, music companies seek to reduce uncertainties of converting objectified cultural capital produced in the labour process into forms of economic or symbolic capital. Control within the recorded labour process depends on forms of legitimate authority in terms of economic control of the labour process and “artistic authority” (Ryan, 1992) based on Bourdieu’s notions of cultural and symbolic capitals. The relationship between art and commerce is also considered through the interaction between artistic identity, conflicts of interests and a musical habitus. Artistic identity exists as an acted identity where musicians’ social identities are managed based on the levels of capital. The pursuit or possession of large amounts of economic capital acts as a stigma for which musicians engage in repair work (Goffman, 1968; Jenkins, 2014). Similarly, lack of cultural capital leads to impression management over how musicians identify themselves. Economic inequality of the musicians’ employment relationship is not seen as a key determinant of conflict. Rather it is compromise and a lack of autonomy that leads musicians to resist creative control. Musicians’ sense of self, and motivation to put up with low pay and poor conditions, is reflected by the internal drive to make music characteristic of an artistic habitus.