Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Media and Communication


Dr David Lee

Lecturer in Cultural Industries and Communication

0113 343 5802

Clothworkers' Building North, Room 1.14

Office hours: Thursday 11-1pm

BA (London), MA (London), PhD (London)

My teaching and research focuses on the cultural industries, cultural policy, cultural economy and television studies. I have published broadly in all these areas.


I joined School of Media and Communication in June 2009. Before joining the School, I completed my PhD at Goldsmiths, London, where I undertook an AHRC funded PhD on cultural production in the independent television production industry. This took a qualitative approach to understanding the changing nature of work within this cultural industry, focusing on networking, precarity, craft and cultural value. I also have extensive experience of working in think tanks and consultancy research, with a focus on cultural and creative industries policy. This includes working for Demos and BOP Consulting, where I led a number of research studies which were undertaken for organisations such as DCMS, CABE, regional development agencies, and most of the regional screen agencies, amongst others.

Prior to academia, I worked at the BBC and in the independent sector in current affairs and documentary production, on programme strands such as NewsnightPanorama and The Money Programme. I draw on this professional experience within my teaching and research.


Research Interests

My research and teaching encompasses a number of areas, connected to media and communication studies and cultural policy. These include:

• documentary production and theory
• media ethnography
• creative and cultural labour
• critical cultural policy
• the history and sociology of communications

With colleagues David Hesmondhalgh, Kate Oakley and Melissa Nisbett, I recently co-authored a book on New Labour’s cultural policies, funded by the AHRC. Other current interests include creative labour and cultural production (see papers below), and arts broadcasting.

I completed my PhD, taken in the Media and Communications Department at Goldsmiths, University of London. The title of my thesis is “Precarious Creativity: Working lives in the British independent television industry”, available to download below. It focuses on the nature of creative work in the British independent television industry, the history of this sector, and on the nature of individual subjectivity that is encouraged within this particular cultural industry.

Before working in academia, I worked in television production at the BBC and in the independent sector, on programmes such as Newsnight, Panorama and The Money Programme, as well as history documentaries. I also have experience of working within thinktanks and consultancy research. This included working for the British thinktank Demos and the economic and arts consultancy BOP Consulting, where I led a number of research studies for organisations such as DCMS, CABE, a number of regional development agencies, and most of the regional screen agencies.


I currently teach on the following modules:
COMM1320 Journalism, Politics and Society

COMM3318 Documentary Feature Production

COMM3130 The Documentary and Reality

COMM5720M Media Production Analysis


Programme Leader, BA Journalism



  • Lee D (2018) Independent Television Production in the UK From Cottage Industry to Big Business. Palgrave Macmillan.
    DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-71670-1, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/128951/

    This book is the first authoritative account of the UK’s independent television production sector, following the creation of Channel 4 in 1982. It examines the rise of a global industry, increasingly interconnected through format development, distribution, ancillary sales and rights. Drawing on case studies, interviews and policy analysis; the author considers the cultural politics behind the growth of the ‘indies’, the labour conditions for workers in this sector, and some of the key television programmes that have been created within it. Filling an important gap in our understanding, this book constitutes a comprehensive account of this vital cultural industry for students, academics and researchers working in the areas of the cultural and creative industries, media and cultural policy and television studies.

  • Paterson C; Lee D; Saha A; Zoellner A (eds.) (2016) Advancing Media Production Research: Shifting Sites, Methods, and Politics. IAMCR Global Transformations in Media and Communication Research. Basingstoke, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
    DOI: 10.1057/9781137541949, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/96692/

    Richly detailed research from the point that our information and culture is manufactured – newsrooms, television studios, and myriad other culture producing institutions – is increasingly rare and difficult. Challenges to such research abound and are escalating, ranging from increasingly secretive corporate cultures which see little value in inviting observation of their work, to pressure on scholars to produce more with less – leading to faster and easier modes of research. The explosion in forms of cultural production and ever broader definitions of journalism make the object of analysis ever harder to identify for media production researchers. Chapter authors explore challenges to production research and offer novel approaches to revealing the hidden nature of media production through engagement with alternative theoretical paradigms and methodological innovation.

  • Hesmondhalgh D, Oakley K, Lee D, Nisbett M (2015) Culture, Economy and Politics: The Case of New Labour.
    DOI: 10.1057/9781137426383

Journal articles

  • Lee D, Corner J (2017) “After dark: Channel 4's innovation in television talk”, Journal of British Cinema and Television. 14.4: 445-463.
    DOI: 10.3366/jbctv.2017.0388, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/106636/

    This article explores the significance of the late-night British discussion programme After Dark (Channel 4, 1987-97) in terms of the production contexts of the time and its distinctive form and structure as television. After Dark emerged during a period of significant transition in the political economy of British broadcasting, with a major factor being the creation of Channel 4. As part of its extension of the possibilities of television as a cultural form, Channel 4 attempted to break the prevailing temporal frame of television output. This was most evident in the open-ended nature of After Dark's transmission, with the programme running into the early hours of the morning with no fixed endpoint. Critical attention to it serves among other things to place in sharper perspective the variety of alignments possible between the discourses television produces and those in play more broadly across the different spaces of the political and social. In particular, it highlights the distinctive forms of speech and deliberation (and therefore the distinctive modes of viewing and listening) informing the programme's design.

  • Lee D (2017) “Cyberfactories: how news agencies produce news”, INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CULTURAL POLICY. 23.1: 122-126.

  • Lee D (2017) “Media independence: working with freedom or working for free?”, INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CULTURAL POLICY. 23.1: 122-126.

  • Lee D, Corner J (2015) “Situating the South Bank Show: Continuity and transition in British arts television”, Journal of British Cinema and Television. 12.3: 364-382.
    DOI: 10.3366/jbctv.2015.0270, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/89898/

    This article examines aspects of The South Bank Show (SBS), the UK's longrunning and successful series over 35 years, closely associated with its editor and presenter Melvyn Bragg and since 2010 broadcast on the channel Sky Arts 1 rather than on its previous home, the ITV network. After placing this series in the broader history of arts television, the article examines aspects of programme design and address, the diversity of topics treated, and the way in which it has reflected some of the changes at work in the social positioning and evaluation of the arts in Britain. It explores questions about the documentary methods and forms used, the relationship of programme design to different kinds of artistic practice, the way in which artists themselves figure in expositions of their work and the forms of engagement both with the high/popular divide and the playoff between the established and the new. The series is seen to be defined not only by its attempts to be 'accessible' but also by its 'sociability', often grounded in the settings, informality and tone of the interview exchanges. The article pays attention to the continuation of SBS on Sky Arts 1, including the SBS Specials, before concluding with some more general observations on arts coverage within a changing television economy and an increasingly diverse cultural landscape.

  • Edwards L, Klein B, Lee D, Moss G, Philip F (2015) “‘Isn’t it just a way to protect Walt Disney’s rights?’: Media user perspectives on copyright”, New Media and Society. 17.5: 691-707.
    DOI: 10.1177/1461444813511402

    © The Author(s) 2013. With digitization allowing for faster and easier sharing and copying of media, the behaviour and attitudes of everyday users of copyrighted material have become an increasing focus of policy, industry and academic attention. This article connects historical characterizations of copyright infringement and the role of the public interest in the development of copyright law and policy with the complex experience of modern, ordinary users of digital media. Users are proposed not as transgressors to be educated, regulated or scared straight, nor as a hazy and largely silent public, but as sources of legitimate perspectives that could contribute to conversations about media, creativity and regulation.

  • Edwards L, Klein B, Lee D, Moss G, Philip F (2015) “Discourse, Justification, and Critique: Towards a Legitimate Digital Copyright Regime?”, International Journal of Cultural Policy. 60-77. 21.1: 60-77.
    DOI: 10.1080/10286632.2013.874421, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/89899/

    Digitization and the internet have posed an acute economic challenge to rights holders in the cultural industries. Faced with a threat to their form of capital accumulation from copyright infringement, rights holders have used discourse strategically in order to try and legitimate and strengthen their position in the digital copyright debate with governments and media users. In so doing, they have appealed to general justificatory principles – about what is good, right, and just – that provide some scope for opposition and critique, as other groups contest their interpretation of these principles and the evidence used to support them. In this article, we address the relative lack of academic attention paid to the role of discourse in copyright debates by analysing user-directed marketing campaigns and submissions to UK government policy consultations. We show how legitimacy claims are justified and critiqued, and conclude that amid these debates rests some hope of achieving a more legitimate policy resolution to the copyright wars – or at least the possibility of beginning a more constructive dialogue.

  • Hesmondhalgh D, Nisbett M, Oakley K, Lee D (2015) “Were New Labour’s cultural policies neo-liberal?”, International Journal of Cultural Policy. 21.1: 97-114.
    DOI: 10.1080/10286632.2013.879126

    © 2014, © 2014 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis. This article assesses the cultural policies of ‘New Labour’, the UK Labour government of 1997–2010. It takes neo-liberalism as its starting point, asking to what extent Labour’s cultural policies can be validly and usefully characterised as neo-liberal. It explores this issue across three dimensions: corporate sponsorship and cuts in public subsidy; the running of public sector cultural institutions as though they were private businesses; and a shift in prevailing rationales for cultural policy, away from cultural justifications, and towards economic and social goals. Neo-liberalism is shown to be a significant but rather crude tool for evaluating and explaining New Labour’s cultural policies. At worse, it falsely implies that New Labour did not differ from Conservative approaches to cultural policy, downplays the effect of sociocultural factors on policy-making, and fails to differentiate varying periods and directions of policy. It does, however, usefully draw attention to the public policy environment in which Labour operated, in particular the damaging effects of focusing, to an excessive degree, on economic conceptions of the good in a way that does not recognise the limitations of markets as a way of organising production, circulation and consumption.

  • Lee D (2015) “Internships, workfare, and the cultural industries: A British perspective”, TripleC. 13.2: 459-470.

    © 2015, Unified Theory of Information Research Group. All rights reserved. While media work has long been characterized as being structurally dependent on internships, “work experience,” and other forms of free labour (Banks 2007; Hesmondhalgh and Baker 2010), the recent shift towards internships has served to normalize what has become known as the media industries “dirty little secret” (Silver 2005). This article contextualizes internship culture within the British cultural industries against a wider political and social frame. Internships and other modes of “apprenticeship” across the British economy reflect a continuation and transformation of national workfare policies, which seek to avert inflationary pressures by coercing people to work or risk losing their welfare benefits. Internship culture has been highly pronounced in the cultural industries and other attractive white-collar sectors such as law and finance (Perlin 2012). Yet, the provision of internships to young people in previously unimaginable contexts such as fast food, retail, and other low-pay service sectors represents a significant shift in policy, compounded by increasingly draconian demands on young people to comply in order to receive state benefits. Discursively, unpaid media work is now seen as an opportunity for the lucky few, rather than a mode of exploitation servicing corporate gain. This has particular relevance for battles over equality and exploitation which have been fought in these sectors, which this discursive shift makes appear increasingly archaic.

  • Lee D, Hesmondhalgh D, Oakley K, Nisbett M (2014) “Regional creative industries policy-making under New Labour”, Cultural Trends. 23.4: 217-231.
    DOI: 10.1080/09548963.2014.912044, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/80972/

    This article analyses creative industries policy in the English regions under New Labour (1997–2010). It examines the ideas behind regional creative industries policies (RCIPs) and their implementation. Focusing on the activities of the English regional development agencies, the primary bodies responsible for the implementation of creative industries policy in the British regions, the article places regional cultural policy during the New Labour period within its broader political, social and economic contexts. It explains and evaluates New Labour's RCIPs, arguing that creative industries policy at the regional level changed over the course of New Labour's three terms of office, becoming increasingly economistic at the expense of a more social democratic vision of regional equality and democracy. We identify three issues that were problematic for New Labour's RCIP: a reliance on the idea of “clusters”, commercialisation and shifting regional governance.

  • Edwards L, Klein B, Lee DJ, Moss G, Philip F (2013) “Isn’t It Just a Way to Protect Walt Disney’s Rights?’: Media User Perspectives on Copyright”, New Media and Society.
    DOI: 10.1177/1461444813511402

    With digitization allowing for faster and easier sharing and copying of media, the behaviour and attitudes of everyday users of copyrighted material have become an increasing focus of policy, industry and academic attention. This article connects historical characterizations of copyright infringement and the role of the public interest in the development of copyright law and policy with the complex experience of modern, ordinary users of digital media. Users are proposed not as transgressors to be educated, regulated or scared straight, nor as a hazy and largely silent public, but as sources of legitimate perspectives that could contribute to conversations about media, creativity and regulation.

  • Edwards LE, Klein B, Lee DJ, Moss G, Philip F (2013) “Framing the consumer:Copyright regulation and the public”, Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies. 19.1: 9-24.
    DOI: 10.1177/1354856512456788, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/76877/

    With illegal downloading at the centre of debates about the creative economy, various policy initiatives and regulatory attempts have tried (and largely failed) to control, persuade and punish users into adhering to copyright law. Rights holders, policymakers, intermediaries and users each circulate and maintain particular attitudes about appropriate uses of digital media. This article maps the failure of regulation to control user behaviour, considers various policy and academic research approaches to understanding users, and introduces an analytical framework that re-evaluates user resistance as expressions of legitimate justifications. A democratic copyright policymaking process must accommodate the modes of justification offered by users to allow copyright law to reconnect with the public interest goals at its foundation.

  • Lee DJ (2013) “Creative Labour in the Cultural Industries”, sociopedia.isa.

    The explicit focus of this article is the study of creative work within the cultural industries. Itbegins by exploring the shift from ‘culture industry’ to ‘cultural industries’ to ‘creative industries’. Then,connecting cultural industries and creative work, it outlines contemporary debates within the field of cre-ative labour studies, including significant theoretical developments that have taken place drawing on gov-ernmentality theory, autonomist Marxism and sociological perspectives. Finally, the article considerspossible directions for future research, arguing for the need to balance theoretical developments with moregrounded sociological work within the field

  • Oakley K, O'Brien D, Lee D (2013) “Happy Now? well-being and cultural policy”, Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly. 31.2: 17-25.
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/76878/

    While much of the debate in policy circles has been on the measurement of wellbeing – how to do it and what the limitations of measurement are– there have been as yet relatively few attempts to apply a wellbeing lens to specific policy areas. One partial exception has been cultural policy. In 2010 the Culture and Sport Evidence Programme (CASE) reported on a three year research programme into the drivers and impacts of participation in sport and cultural activity. A key strand of the programme was to understand and assess the short and longer term benefits of cultural engagement, and it drew upon data from the Arts Council’s ‘Taking Part’ survey of cultural participation, and the British Household Panel Survey. Individual value was assessed by the improvements in subjective well-being and by the ‘healthcare costs saved and improved health-related quality of life,’ generated by doing sport and engaging with culture (CASE 2010:5). Despite the rather startling assertion that a visit to the cinema once a week had an income compensation value of £9,000 per household per year (CASE 2010); there is little evidence that wellbeing is, as yet, being used to inform funding or other policy directions for DCMS. Nevertheless, in the rhetoric of arts funding, wellbeing has now joined the long list of benefits – educational attainment, self-confidence, health and social cohesion – that have at one time been claimed to result from cultural participation. The aim of this paper is to analyse the use of wellbeing as an idea within cultural policy and too discuss what this tells us, about the adaption of such discourses by policymakers in general, and its potential uses in cultural policy in particular. It will consider the adoption of well being within cultural policy under New Labour, and consider what its retention under a Coalition government tells us about the cross-party appeal of such a notion. The paper will consider the CASE example, look at other uses of wellbeing by local authorities or arts organisations and ask; what sort of culture might result from an approach based on wellbeing? How would culture fare vis a vis other public spending commitments under a wellbeing approach? And, if linked to a discussion about work and ownership, could well-being offer a way to think about improving working conditions within the cultural industries?

  • Lee DJ (2012) “Precarious creativity: Changing attitudes towards craft and creativity in the British independent television production sector”, Creative Industries Journal. 2. 4: 155-170.
    DOI: 10.1386/cij.4.2.155_1, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/76879/

    This article focuses on television workers’ attitudes towards craft and creative practice within the field of factual television production in the British independent television production sector (ITPS). Based on longitudinal qualitative research, it argues that a radical shift has occurred in the professional values that television producers’ associate with their creative work, by focusing on ethical and professional norms within factual television production. By considering the historical and contemporary discourse of ‘craft’ within this area of creative work, the article interrogates the nature of the changes that have taken place. The wider significance of these changes is also considered, through an engagement with theoretical concerns about the place of craft within late modernity (Sennett 2006), and with debates about the changes that have taken place within the political economy of independent television production. The article’s findings have contextual significance within contemporary debates about creative work (Hesmondhalgh & Baker, 2010). Despite the celebratory policy rhetoric of the ‘creative industries’ (DCMS 1998), the transformed production environment within contemporary British television has had a detrimental effect on skills retention and development, as well as on the potential for creativity within the industry.

  • Lee DJ (2011) “The Ethics of Insecurity: Risk, Individualisation and Value in British Independent Television Production.”, Television and New Media.
    DOI: 10.1177/1527476411424419

    This article discusses the working lives of individuals working in the British independent television production sector. It focuses on the material reality of their individualised, precarious working environment, investigating the disjuncture between the precarious, insecure nature of creative labour within this industry, which engenders stress and anxiety, and the intense emotional pleasure associated with such work. While the tension between ‘pleasure’ and ‘pain’ within creative occupations has been well documented (e.g. McRobbie, 2002b; Ursell, 2000), this article argues that in order to fully understand the subjective responses to creative work we need to look beyond the dominant post-Foucauldian approach in this field and attempt to understand cultural work as a site for moral work (Banks, 2006). Creative occupations are sites of exploitation and intense insecurity fuelled by the desire for self-actualisation. However, they are also spaces where workers have an ethical commitment to, and passion for, their cultural work.

  • Lee DJ (2011) “Networks, cultural capital and creative labour in the British independent television industry”, Media, Culture and Society. 33.4: 549-565.
    DOI: 10.1177/0163443711398693

    This article examines the significance of networking practices as a means of finding work and developing a career in the British independent television production sector (ITPS). The findings are based on qualitative research carried out between 2005 and 2006, based on in-depth interviews with 20 freelancers working in the ITPS. The article studies the importance of networking not only as a mode of finding work, but also a mechanism of exclusion, favouring individuals with high levels of cultural and social capital. Drawing on sociological theories of networks such as those of Granovetter and Burt, the article considers the emergence of new patterns of hierarchy and discrimination within the ITPS, in a context where formal recruitment procedures are often bypassed in favour of network relationships. It also examines the implications for television workers of the discursive shift towards networking, where the ‘networkextender’ is presented as the ideal within contemporary management discourse.

  • Lee DJ, Gilmore A (2011) “Mapping Cultural Assets and Evaluating Significance: Theory, Methodology and Practice.”, Cultural Trends. 21.1: 3-28.
    DOI: 10.1080/09548963.2012.641757

    Over the last decade in the UK, there has been a notable shift in the popularity and use of cultural mapping as a methodology for policy making at a regional and local level. This follows increased demand for an informed framework for planning arts and cultural facilities from local and regional government and from within the cultural sector (Evans, 2008: p. 65). The article begins with an exploration of cultural mapping within cultural policy, which explores the context for the growth in this area of activity, and why this kind of activity appeals to policy makers and organisations. It then goes on to examine four cultural mapping exercises which have been undertaken in recent years in the UK. These studies have been chosen because although they all focus the mapping of cultural assets within a specific geographic area, they differ to one degree or another in purpose, context, definition, geographic scale and methodology. They illustrate the narrow range of approaches deployed in the cultural mapping field in the UK, and as such provide a useful means of critically reviewing their limits as well as highlighting the issues and challenges faced by cultural cartography in practice. The article concludes by considering the type of mapping research that is “allowed” within the discursive confines of consultancy based cultural policy research.

  • Lee DJ, Oakley K, Naylor R (2011) “'The public gets what the public wants'? The uses and abuses of 'public value' in contemporary British cultural policy”, INT J CULT POLICY. 17.3: 289-300.
    DOI: 10.1080/10286632.2010.528834

    The aim of this article is to examine the adoption and use of the term ‘public value’ in both the broadcasting and the wider cultural arena. It examines the ideas, tensions and contradictions that exist in such a notion, asking whether it is simply empty rhetoric, or whether it tells us something more. It argues that the term stands as an example of a failed approach to policy‐making, being neither successfully technocratic, offering a clear methodology for assessing value, nor successfully rhetorical in the way that ‘the public good’, or ‘public service broadcasting’ can be deemed to have been. It also explores the means by which certain policy ideas are transmitted, briefly flourish and then dissipate, arguing that this may beat the cost to a longer‐term more sustainable mode of cultural policy‐making.

  • Oakley K, Hesmondhalgh D, Lee DJ, Nisbett M “The national trust for talent; NESTA and New Labour’s cultural policy”, British Politics. (Accepted)
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/79076/

    Although the New Labour period witnessed a high degree of institutional formation in the United Kingdom, many of its initiatives, from regional development agencies to the Film Council, have not survived. One exception is the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA). Using interviews and unpublished documentation, this article traces the pre-history of NESTA, its origins as an idea in the last years of the Major administration, the policy networks that helped develop it and its realisation under New Labour. The argument is that by examining the trajectory of NESTA, we can see many of the themes of New Labour’s cultural policy, particularly what came to be thought of as its ‘creative economy’ policy, under which an early enthusiasm for supporting small cultural businesses was replaced by the discourse of creativity and innovation, progressively emptying the policy of its concerns with culture in favour of a focus on economic growth.


  • Paterson C, Lee D, Saha A, Zoellner A (2016) “Production Research - Continuity and Transformation”, In: Paterson C; Lee D; Saha A; Zoellner A (eds.) Advancing Media Production Research: Shifting Sites, Methods, and Politics. IAMCR. Basingstoke, New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 3-19

  • Hesmondhalgh D, Oakley K, Lee D, Nisbett M, Hesmondhalgh D, Oakley K, Lee D, Nisbett M (2015) Heritage. 162-183

  • Hesmondhalgh D, Oakley K, Lee D, Nisbett M, Hesmondhalgh D, Oakley K, Lee D, Nisbett M (2015) New Labour, Culture and Creativity. 36-69

  • Hesmondhalgh D, Oakley K, Lee D, Nisbett M, Hesmondhalgh D, Oakley K, Lee D, Nisbett M (2015) The Arts: Access, Excellence and Instrumentalism. 70-101

  • Hesmondhalgh D, Oakley K, Lee D, Nisbett M, Hesmondhalgh D, Oakley K, Lee D, Nisbett M (2015) Cultural Policy and the Regions. 123-142

  • Hesmondhalgh D, Oakley K, Lee D, Nisbett M, Hesmondhalgh D, Oakley K, Lee D, Nisbett M (2015) What Was Creative Industries Policy? Film, Copyright and the Shift to Creative Economy. 102-122

  • Hesmondhalgh D, Oakley K, Lee D, Nisbett M, Hesmondhalgh D, Oakley K, Lee D, Nisbett M (2015) Policy Innovation: Nesta and Creative Partnerships. 143-161

  • Hesmondhalgh D, Oakley K, Lee D, Nisbett M, Hesmondhalgh D, Oakley K, Lee D, Nisbett M (2015) Culture, Politics and Equality: The Challenge for Social Democracy. 1-+

  • Hesmondhalgh D, Oakley K, Lee D, Nisbett M, Hesmondhalgh D, Oakley K, Lee D, Nisbett M (2015) How Did New Labour Doon Arts and Culture? And What Happened Next?. 184-201

  • Edwards L, Klein B, Lee DJ, Moss G, Philip F (2014) “Communicating Copyright: Discourse and Disagreement in the Digital Age”, In: David M; Halbert D (eds.) The SAGE Handbook of Intellectual Property. London: Sage. 300-314 (Accepted)

  • Edwards L, Klein B, Lee D, Moss G, Philip F (2014) “Communicating copyright: Discourse and disagreement in the digital age”, In: The SAGE Handbook of Intellectual Property. 300-314
    DOI: 10.4135/9781473910027.n17

  • Lee DJ (2013) “Creative Networks and Social Capital”, In: Ashton D (eds.) Cultural Work and Higher Education.

    This chapter explores the role of networks and associations for cultural workers within the creative economy, and then considers the implications of research findings in this area for the practices and curriculum of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), and their relationship to creative sectors. Networks and networking can be seen as crucial practices for finding work, sustaining a career and progressing within the often freelance and insecure labour markets of the cultural industries. Yet, who is best placed to undertake networking successfully? Research in this area raises important concerns about the network culture that has developed within cultural labour markets. On the surface the reliance upon networks as a means of recruitment and finding work appear to offer a relatively frictionless and non-hierarchical method of facilitating labour market processes in this area. Unburdened by the administrative demands of formal job recruitment, managers are able to rely on word of mouth and informal associations to recruit in highly freelance, contract based labour markets. However, on closer inspection, they actually act as mechanisms of exclusion, favouring individuals with high levels of cultural and social capital. On the other hand, networks also offer the possibility for a renewal of work politics within the increasingly deunionised workplaces of the cultural industries, as the case of the highly successful TVWRAP campaign in 2005 against workplace exploitation demonstrates. Based on extensive field research into the British independent television industry, but also reviewing research findings within other creative sectors, this chapter examines the implications of the discursive and material shift towards a network culture at work for cultural workers, where the ‘network extender’ is presented as the ideal within contemporary management discourse (Boltanski & Chiapello, 2005). It then considers how such networking practices are embedded within the culture and curriculum of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). In conclusion, it considers the role of HEIs in either challenging or being complicit with the classed, gendered and raced entry mechanisms to creative labour fields, which are often based on cultural and social capital (Lee, 2011, Oakley, 2006). In this context, should the university be instrumental in formulating an ‘ethic of cultural labour’ in response to the challenges unearthed within my empirical research?

  • Phillips A, Lee DJ (2007) “The UK: A Very British Response”, In: Kunelius R; Eide E; Hahn O; Schroeder R (eds.) Reading the Mohammed cartoons controversy. Freiburg: Projektverlag.

  • Lee DJ (2007) “Creative London? Investigating New Modalities of Work in the Cultural Industries”, In: Graaf SVD; Washida Y (eds.) Information communication technologies and emerging business strategies. IGI Global.

    This chapter considers the emergence of the discourse of creativity in contemporary economic, political, and social life, and the characteristics of emerging labour markets in the cultural industries. In particular it is concerned with analysing the working experiences of a number of individuals working in the cultural industries in London. Using a critical theoretical framework of understanding, it examines the importance of cultural capital, subjectivisation, governmentality, network sociality, and individualization as key concepts for understanding the experience of labour in the creative economy. This chapter considers how creative individuals negotiate the precarious, largely freelance, deregulated and de-unionised terrain of contemporary work. As the economic becomes increasingly inflected by the cultural in contemporary social life, the terrain of experience of individuals working in these expanding sectors has been neglected in cultural studies. This chapter seeks to critically intervene in this area, arguing that the “creative” turn in contemporary discourse can be seen to mask emergent inequalities and exploitative practices in the post-industrial employment landscape.


  • Lee DJ, Naylor R, Homfray A, Gibbons C (2009) “Scoping a Cultural and Sporting Assets Database”, In: Scoping a Cultural and Sporting Assets Database. London: DCMS.

  • Lee DJ, Burns J, Hyam T (2008) City South Culture: A Cultural Strategy for Cultural Development in Manchester City South. Manchester: City South Partnership.

  • Lee DJ, Naylor R, Gibbons C (2008) “Mapping and Gapping of Cultural Assets in the West Midlands”, In: Mapping and Gapping of Cultural Assets in the West Midlands. Birmingham: West Midlands Regional Assembly.

  • Lee DJ, Naylor R, Runge J, Kern P (2008) “The Impact of Culture on Creativity”, In: The Impact of Culture on Creativity. Brussels: European Commission.

  • Lee DJ, Burns J, Griffin T (2008) Fylde Coast Cultural Strategy. Fylde Borough Council.

  • Campbell T, Lee DJ, O'Connor J (2006) “Creating Growth: How the UK can develop world-class creative businesses”, In: Creating Growth: How the UK can develop world-class creative businesses. London: NESTA.

Research Projects & Grants

Co-Investigator ESRC RES 062-23-3027: Communicating Copyright: An Exploration of Copyright Discourses in the Digital Age (with Dr. Bethany Klein, Dr Lee Edwards, Dr Giles Moss), 2011-12, http://www.esrc.ac.uk/my-esrc/grants/RES-062-23-3027/read

Co-investigator on the AHRC-funded project ‘Cultural Policy Under New Labour’ with Professor David Hesmondhalgh (PI), Professor Kate Oakley and Dr. Melissa Nisbett.

Research Centres & Groups

I am a member of the Cultural Production and Media Policy research group and the Journalism research group.

PhD & Postdoctoral Supervision

I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students in the areas of my research interests and in any related areas. With colleagues I have supervised the following students to completion:

Christiaan De Beukelaer, From Cultural Development to Culture for Development: The Music Industries in Burkina Faso and Ghana, 2015

Patrick Enaholo (2015). Cultural Context of Creative Labour: An Empirical Study of New Media Work in Nigeria.

I am currently co-supervising Jeremy Vachet and Elysia Turner – details of their projects can be found in the People/Postgraduate Research Students section of the website.

PhD Thesis




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