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Whither the creative economy? Some reflections on the European case

CREATe Working Paper 2018/05

Philip Schlesinger

The culture sector suffers from a lack of strategic support and financial investment. The challenge is, thus, to promote and strengthen the contribution of the culture sector to the benefit of the European economy.[1]


There is now a substantial academic literature that addresses the creative economy. While most of this consists either of advocacy or the application of a set of increasingly orthodox ideas, there is also a growing critical response.[2] This literature is now available in several languages – although English dominates overwhelmingly – which testifies to the globalisation of the ideas in question. Flew has identified a number of policy variants in recent discussion of the Creative Industries.[3] Alongside what has emerged in the European Union (EU), distinctive approaches have also been taken in East Asia, China and Australasia. As there are comprehensive reviews of this literature, it would be otiose to repeat thorough work already done by others.[4] I shall restrict myself to a brief overall comment on the present state of play before considering my case in point, the EU, which illustrates my central contention – that when the creative economy frames the argument this shapes how we might think about the value of culture.

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This appears as a chapter in: Abbe E.L. Brown and Charlotte Waelde (eds), Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Creative Industries, Cheltenham UK, Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2018, pp.11-25.


[1] European Commission, ‘Culture: supporting Europe’s cultural and creative sectors’ <> accessed 20 August 2015 (original emphasis).

[2] See, for instance, E Bustamante (ed.), Industrias creativas: amenazas sobre la cultura digital (Gedisa Editorial 2011); P Bouquillion, B Miège and P Moeglin, L’industrialisation des biens symboliques: les industries créatives en regard des industries culturelles (Presses Universitaires de Grenoble 2013); G Lovink and N Rossiter, MyCreativity Reader: A Critique of Creative Industries (Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures 2007); G Raunig, G Ray and U Wuggenig (eds), Critique of Creativity: Precarity, Subjectivity and Resistance in the Creative Industries (MayFlyBooks 2011); MP Reich, Kultur- und Kreativwirtschaft in Deutschland: Hype oder Zukunfstchance der Stadtentwicklung? (Springer 2013); M Vötsch and R Weiskopf, ‘Thank you for your creativity’: ‘‘Arbeit’’ und ‘‘Kreativität’’ im Diskurs der creative industries’ in R Diaz-Bone and G Krell (eds), Diskursanalytische Perspektiven auf Märkte und Organisationen. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften (Springer 2009) 293.

[3] T Flew, The Creative Industries: Culture and Policy (Sage Publications 2012).

[4] See, for example, Flew (n 3); J O’Connor, The Cultural and Creative Industries: A Literature Review (2nd edn, Creativity, Culture and Education 2010).