Intellectual and Creative Work and Its Economic and Political Restraints in Contemporary Societies

Thursday, 19 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Erkki SEVANEN, University of Eastern Finland, Finland
What is nowadays characteristic of intellectual and creative professions? As Sheila Slaughter and Gary Rhodes (2009) remark, their degree of freedom is on the decrease. "Intellectual and creative professions" mean here academic research work, higher education, and creative arts. Their autonomy is, particularly, restricted by two interlaced procesess: the marketisation of societies and the transformation of welfare states into competitive states.

The former process has meant a demand that the entire society has to function in the same way as capitalist enterprises traditionally functioned. The laws of capitalism have, thereby, increasingly spread into the areas of science, education and art.

In the current world, the states strive to be more competitive than the other states, and to promote the competitiveness of "domestic" enterprises by scientific research, innovation policy and technological development work. Likewise, they shape their national social systems as attractive locations of operation for business and investors. Here it is the task of art to produce positive images of the domestic economic life and its "dynamics", but in this politics art is also in itself seen as a source of innovation, economic growth and competitiveness. Furthermore, in order to promote their own attraction, several metropolises and cities elaborate on their systems of cultural services.

Thus, today artistic supply has, partly, changed into a special sort of entertainment, brand-constructing and tourist attraction. This supply can, like all art, offer "consumers" fresh insights into society and even change their ways of thinking, but it can hardly contribute to fundamental social changes. If artists want to achieve a more radical social role, they should try to practise their profession on a non-profit basis or, by their art, to promote radical social movements' goals. To be sure, the latter alternative is largely excluded in countries exercising authoritarian (China) or semi-authoritarian politics (Russia, Turkey).