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The Co-operative Alternative and the Creative Industries: A Technical Report on a Survey of Co-operatives in the cultural and technology sectors in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Dreyer, B., de Peuter, G., Sandoval Gomez, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-0007-2309 and Szaflarska, A. (2020). The Co-operative Alternative and the Creative Industries: A Technical Report on a Survey of Co-operatives in the cultural and technology sectors in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.. Cultural Workers Organize.

Abstract

This report presents the findings of a 2019 online survey of co-operatives in creative industries in Canada, the UK, and the US. This survey was an international collaboration between the SSHRC-supported project, “Pathways beyond Precarity in the Cultural and Creative Industries: Sustainable Livelihoods and Cultures of Solidarity,” and the British Academy-supported project, “Mapping Cultural Co-operatives.” This technical report is a companion to our community publication, Sharing Like We Mean It: Working Co-operatively in the Cultural and Tech Sectors. Whereas the latter presents select findings for workers who are new to co-ops, this technical report provides a fuller account of the results for co-op researchers, associations, policymakers, and other interested readers.

Our survey was initiated in the context of research on cultural work. Scholars have produced extensive evidence of the precarity faced by workers in creative industries, including arts and culture, media and communication, and information technology. As the perils of Big Tech and the precarity of cultural work have become increasingly contentious, the need to explore and enact worker-centered strategies for democratizing labour and sustaining livelihoods has become urgent—all the more so in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit self-employed cultural workers particularly hard. While the co-operative model has recently begun to receive more attention among researchers seeking alternative work structures for the cultural and tech sectors, knowledge of the co-op landscape in the creative industries and the conditions of work therein remains limited. Building on Dave Boyle and Kate Oakley’s reflections on the complementarities of co-ops and creative industries, this report summarizes findings from our 2019 survey of creative-sector co-ops in Canada, the UK, and the US.

In undertaking this survey, we set out to generate a preliminary portrait of co-op presence in creative industries; working conditions within creative-sector co-ops; the benefits of working co-operatively; reasons why cultural and tech workers choose the co-op option; and creative-sector co-ops’ involvement in the wider co-operative movement.

As further described in Sharing Like We Mean It: Working Co-operatively in the Cultural and Tech Sectors, the results of our survey confirm that the co-op model is a promising strategy for mitigating individualized patterns of work, democratizing work relationships, and providing satisfying work in creative industries contexts. While co-ops are not a magic solution to systemic work problems, our research is suggestive of co-ops’ potential to remake work in ways that have yet to be fully realized, or widely tested, in creative industries.

Publication Type: Report
Additional Information: This work is licenced under a Creative Commons licence, CC-BY-NC-ND. This license allows reusers to copy and distribute the material in any medium or format in unadapted form only, for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > Sociology
Date available in CRO: 02 Aug 2021 12:51
Date of first online publication: 1 December 2020
URI: https://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/26325
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