Creative labor as moral and ethical subjects: Creativity City Yokohama, Japan
ABSTRACT This study aims to reconsider and re-evaluate the rapid circulation of global creative city policy from the viewpoint of its creative workforce by focusing on the case of Yokohama, Japan. To shed light on this workforce’s everyday experiences and labor subjectivity, this investigation draws ideas from recent research trends of “creative labor” from the field of media and cultural studies, sociology of work, and political economy of communication. Based on in-depth interviews and participant observations, this research focuses on how the ethical and moral dimensions of labor subjectivity in creative work are prominently important in explaining Yokohama workers’ everyday living and working experiences as creative labor. Unexpectedly, this study found that these moral and ethical sentiments and actions, which take on the role of retaining their labor motivation, actually limit the development of political subjects who can resist given precarious working conditions and thereby hinder them from building a collective solidarity as “workers.” Thus this investigation concludes that the creative worker’s subjectivity retreats to solely a moral dimension rather than to a political one. Through this finding, this study explores whether the articulation of moral-political and social values in the course of cultural work can evolve from creative workers’ moral and ethical sensitivities and actions.
KEYWORDS: Creative labor; creative city policy; Japan; precariousness; precariat
Notes on contributor
Changwook Kim (Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Amherst) is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Global Leadership School at Handong Global University. His research interests include creative industry, creative city policy, creative labor, and cultural policy, specifically in East Asia. His research has appeared in various academic journals including Television & New Media and the International Journal of Cultural Policy. His dissertation entitled “Assembling Creative Cities in Seoul and Yokohama: Rebranding East Asian Urbanism” recently won the Best Dissertation Award from the Global Communication and Social Change Division of the International Communication Association (ICA).