Please check out the following recent publication from OOW member Matthew Rowe: “Boundary Work and Early Careers in Design and Media.” Poetics 72(1): 70-80.
This article examines how emerging professionals navigate uncertain conditions in creative fields. Using data from in-depth work history interviews with 55 graphic designers and digital media artists, the findings demonstrate how those doing creative work in commercial settings use boundary work as a narrative strategy that brings order to discordant work experiences. Interviewees engage in two forms of boundary work—segmentation and integration—both of which rely on shared meanings of the value and rewards of creative work. Segmentation refers to rhetorical strategies that combine the competing motivations of work—artistic and commercial—in order to explain combinations of different job types. Integration refers to efforts to merge these motivations, justifying work in a single full-time job that combines artistic and commercial logics. Interviewees in both groups draw on the concept of creativity to evaluate the risks and rewards of work and to justify commercial engagement while bolstering artistic identities. The analysis suggests new directions for sociological research on cultural production, artistic careers, and labor market uncertainty.