From cultural industries to creative industries and back? Towards clarifying theory and rethinking policy
AbstractIn this paper, I draw attention to the complexities and confusions in the shift in discourse and praxis from “culture industry” to “cultural industries” and then “creative industries.” I examine how this “creative turn” is fraught with challenges, highlighting seven issues in particular: (i) the difficulties in defining and scoping the creative industries; (ii) the challenges in measuring the economic benefits creative industries bring; (iii) the risk that creative industries neglect genuine creativity/culture; (iv) the utopianization of “creative labour”; (v) the risk of valorizing and promoting external expertise over local small- and medium-scale enterprises in the building of “creative industries”; (vi) the danger of overblown expectations for creative industries to serve innovation and the economy, as well as culture and social equity; and (vii) the fallacy that “creative cities” can be designed. I suggest that the move towards creative industries discourse represents a theoretical backslide, and raise the possibility that a return to “cultural industries” would be more beneficial for clarifying our theoretical understanding of the cultural sectors and the creative work that they do, as well as enabling better policymaking.
Keywords:Cultural/creative industries, cultural/creative policy, creative cities, creative class, creative turn
Lily Kong is Provost’s Chair Professor in the Department of Geography, National University of Singapore. She is a social-cultural geographer and her research interests include the study of religion, the understanding of identities, and cultural economy and policy. Her recent publications include Religion and Landscape: Place, Politics, and Piety (2012, with Peter Hopkins and Elizabeth Olsen) while her major forthcoming publication (2015, with C-H Ching and T-L Chou) is Arts, Culture and the Making of Global Cities: Constructing New Urban Landscapes in Asia.