A hidden history: defining and specifying the role of the creative industries

Frederick H. Pitts

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In this article I craft a definition of the role of the creative industries through time and in their contemporary specificity. I consider some of the possible approaches to the situation of the creative industries vis-à-vis the rest of the economy. I steer a middle course through contemporary debates around whether, on the one hand, the economy is cultural or, on the other, whether culture is economic. I suggest that the two bear influence upon each other. The argument presented is as follows. Standard definitions of the creative industries typically struggle to account for the diverse manifestations of creative employment and creative practices in other areas of the economy. In some ways, all industries can be considered as ‘creative’. In other ways, and by extension, no industries may be considered specifically ‘creative’. In this context, we might conceive of the contemporary specificity of the creative industries and creative employment in terms of the way in which they bring together, institutionalise and standardise the plethora of creative functions that are necessary for the reproduction of a capitalist system of commodity exchange.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-84
Number of pages12
JournalCreative Industries Journal
Issue number1
Early online date1 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Creative Industries
  • Cultural industries
  • Creative labour


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