Job (In)Security and Creative Freedom


Job security definitely does not mesh well with today's 'new' capitalist culture of workforce flexibility and flexible productivity (paraphrasing Richard Sennett here). Interviews with media professionals show how for most of them (especially all the newcomers), their current employment is at best temporary, and at worst contingent on the unpredictable success of the movie, program, game franchise, or title involved.

However, and perhaps strangely enough: it seems that media professionals actually like this kind of short-term engagement, immediate commitment, and uncertainty...

It reminds me of comments made earlier - in the Journal of Organizational Behavior (issue 23 of 2002) by Janet Marler, Melissa Woodard Barringer and George Milkovich:

“As job security and promotional opportunities within larger organizations decline, individuals may view multiple employer experiences in a positive light because it supports skill development, increases marketability, shifts career control to the employee, and perhaps results in better matching career and family life-cycle demands. As such, boundarylessness represents a different conception of job security”


On the other hand, I am reminded of the cautious words of Zygmunt Bauman in an interview with Keith Tester (published in 2001 by Polity Press, quote from page 52):

"We are called to believe today that security is disempowering, disabling, breeding the resented 'dependency' and altogether constraining the human agents' freedom. What is passed over in silence is that acrobatics and rope-walking without a safety net are an art that few people can master and a recipe for disaster for all the rest."

To what exent is the relative creative autonomy experienced in a media professionals' portfolio worklife a kind of acrobatics that leads to the survival of the few or the well-adjusted? Is creativity in such a 'employee-controlled' labor context really possible, or strictly imaginary?