Hope labour and the psychic life of cultural work

Mackenzie, Ewan and McKinlay, Alan (2021) Hope labour and the psychic life of cultural work. Human Relations, 74 (11). pp. 1841-1863. ISSN 0018-7267

Text (Final published version)
Final published version.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Download (164kB) | Preview
Text (Advance online version)
0018726720940777.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Download (177kB) | Preview
Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726720940777


How do we understand the psychic life of cultural workers under neoliberalism? ‘Hope labour’ is a defining quality of a cultural worker’s experience, practice and identity. Hope labour is unpaid or under-compensated labour undertaken in the present, usually for exposure or experience, with the hope that future work may follow. Hope labour is naturalised by neoliberal discourses but not fully determined by them. Drawing upon empirical research investigating the ‘creative industries’ in the North East of England, we ask how hope labour is made meaningful and worthwhile for cultural workers positioned as entrepreneurial subjects, despite its legitimisation of power asymmetries. We develop Foucauldian studies of governmentality by addressing how cultural work is lived through neoliberal categories, demonstrating the conflicting discourses and relations to self involved in the constitution of entrepreneurial subjectivity. We make a novel contribution to an understanding of hope and precarity by illustrating how cultural workers begin to occupy the site of the entrepreneurial subject amidst conflicting configurations of hope, desire, anxiety and uncertainty.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article. This work was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (grant number AH/P005160/1) and match funded by Newcastle University, Northumbria University, Durham University, The University of Sunderland and Teesside University, UK.
Uncontrolled Keywords: cultural work, governmentality, hope labour, neoliberalism, psychic life
Subjects: L100 Economics
L200 Politics
L300 Sociology
L900 Others in Social studies
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2020 11:51
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2021 07:37
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/43921

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics