Creativity: from discourse to doctrine

Schlesinger, P. (2007) Creativity: from discourse to doctrine. Screen, 48(3), pp. 399-387. (doi: 10.1093/screen/hjm037)

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This is a short report on work in progress. It centres on the idea of ‘creativity’, which is of presently of key importance for current UK government thinking about the ‘creative economy’. ‘Creativity’, I shall argue, has established itself as a hegemonic term in an increasingly elaborated framework of policy ideas. Although my focus is on the UK, we are addressing a body of thought that is now increasingly international in scope. The ideas in question are influential and set the terms for thought and action across a number of policy fields. Not for nothing has David Puttnam, a key ‘New’ Labour figure, said that ‘the importance of the creative industries was quickly enshrined as an article of faith’. An analysis of New Labour discourse reveals an underlying credo – itself a fit subject for the critique of ideology. A concerted effort is under way to shape a wide range of working practices by invoking creativity and innovation. These attributes are supposed to make our societies and economies grow in a fiercely competitive world. At present, official thinking circulates in a dominant culture of largely uncritical acceptance. Alongside the elaboration of the doctrine of creativity by the government policy apparatus is a specialist discourse of academic analysis. If it is now fashionable to see the creative economy as pivotal to the wider economy, this view is certainly not limited to policy makers. As creativity has moved centre stage, it has also become extraordinarily banal. The mark of its present hegemony is that it is also increasingly ubiquitous. ‘British creativity’, for instance, ensures market success for Thornton’s, the chocolate manufacturers, so their advertising tells us. Not on its own, to be sure: cocoa and sugar are added ingredients. In a district nearby to mine in Glasgow, there is a ‘creative hairdresser’. We who stay without must ponder what wondrous transformations occur under the stylists’ hands. My inbox is regularly assaulted by spam offering courses to explore my creativity (and temptingly, to develop my ludic qualities) in New York City and various European locations. So far I have managed to resist. Such examples could easily be multiplied.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The full text of this paper will not be available until October 2009 due to publishers embargo.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Schlesinger, Professor Philip
Authors: Schlesinger, P.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
College/School:College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Journal Name:Screen
Publisher:Oxford University Press
First Published:First published in Screen 48(3):399-387
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
447241Creativity - policy and practice. A study of government, the BBC and UK Film CouncilPhilip SchlesingerArts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)112152/1CCA - THEATRE FILM AND TV STUDIES