Creatives in Crisis: How freelance creatives mobilise online communities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  Creative industries in the UK have been recognised as a driver of economic growth and cultural expression. However, much academic work has been devoted to the low paid, insecure, and sometimes exploitative nature of labour relations in the sector. The often individualised and freelance nature of creative work, and the power imbalance between these workers and the corporate entities who often purchase their labour or product has led to falling (or static) wage rates and insecure employment across many creative occupations. As a largely non-unionised group of workers, creatives have often found it challenging to resist these power imbalances and achieve fairer pay for all.

The proposed project builds on my previous research into the occupational precarity of journalists (Patrick and Elks, 2015) and on how photographers organise to improve pay and conditions using social media forums (Patrick and Kranert, under review at Work, Employment and Society). The preceding work has illustrated that precarity for some groups of creative workers is social in construction and in resistance. The proposed research will explore the extent to which these themes are perpetuated or challenged in a period of occupational (and often personal) crisis. The research asks: How are online creative communities responding to the occupational crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic?

The research will utilise a netnographic approach as adopted by previous research on online communities , supplemented by online video interviews. The netnography will extend from previously studied online communities, based on Facebook, to explore Facebook groups, pages, Twitter hashtags, weblogs, and broader online forums. The interviews will be held with key participants in the online communities. The data will be compiled and analysed using NVivo11 to determine key themes. I will focus on posts, threads, discussions about occupational dynamics linked to the pandemic and will look to gather data on (a) types of posts (b) the extent of engagement with those posts and any link to offline activity and (c) types of workers engaging with those posts.

  • Start Date:

    1 May 2020

  • End Date:

    30 April 2021

  • Activity Type:

    Externally Funded Research

  • Funder:

    The University of Edinburgh

  • Value:

    £5000

Project Team