Surrender to the Void: Life after Creative Industries

Though the term ‘creative industries’ is now widely used, its agenda has lacked a book length exposition. John Hartley’s Creative Industries (2005) is an edited collection prefaced by a eulogy to the rise and rise of the citizen-consumer, followed by many chapters directly contradicting or at least confusing this message. Stuart Cunningham’s work circulates on the margins between academic and ‘grey’ policy literature. Terry Flew, publishing across the fields of media, cultural studies and cultural geography, seems ideal for the task of outlining the dynamics, possibilities and challenges facing the creative industries in the next decade. This is not the book we get. Unlike in David Hesmondhalgh’s The Cultural Industries, there are no detailed accounts of the workings of creative industries and their various sub sectors, nor any case studies or sustained conceptual or historical accounts of the complex social changes underpinning the creative industries. What we get, from introduction to conclusion, is a series of running battles between the author and all those, mostly in cultural studies, who are critical of the creative industries. The result is a rather airless book, one no policy-maker would read (who cares what a bunch of cultural lefties say?) and of which students will struggle to make sense. It’s rather like a parliamentary debate, lots of ding-dong arguments but very difficult to follow if you are not already immersed in the context.


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