The Economics of Creativity

The Economics of Creativity

Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Harvard University Press
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  • Book Info
    The Economics of Creativity
    Book Description:

    Creative work is governed by uncertainty. So how can customers and critics judge merit, when the disparity between superstardom and obscurity hinges on minor gaps in ability? The Economics of Creativity brings clarity to a market widely seen as either irrational or so free of standards that only power and manipulation count.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-72645-1
    Subjects: Sociology, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    Labor is a familiar subject for study in the social sciences. The literature is replete with studies of occupations, careers, labor markets, contractual relations in employment, unemployment, the relations between training and professionalization, and various aspects of remuneration, including its distribution, its relation to investments in training, and its evolution in individuals’ careers. When the labor in question is artistic, however, such analysis is somewhat harder to find. This no doubt reflects the unusual nature of artistic labor.

    Research shows that artists are better educated than most other workers, but also that on-the-job training and learning through experience play such...

  4. CHAPTER ONE Time, Causes, and Reasons in Action
    (pp. 15-71)

    Action analysis in both sociology and economics faces a persistent tension. To understand how individuals differ in their behavior, we may need to define each individual’s characteristics, preferences, and resources at the onset of the course of action. This essentially leads to a long-term, propelling view of the causal determination of individual action. However, as action unfolds sequentially, within an environment of interactions, people learn from each other and about themselves in ways that cannot be fully anticipated. Can we, simultaneously, fully define the identities of social actors and the situations that bring those actors together? My view is that...

  5. CHAPTER TWO Is Working to Achieve Self-Fulfillment Rational?
    (pp. 72-103)

    In classical economic analysis, labor is generally treated as a negative magnitude. It is described restrictively as a “disutility,” an expense of individual energy in exchange for a salary and the consumer goods to which that salary provides access. Leisure and consumer goods are the only sources of satisfaction and individual well-being. Thus labor is reduced to “negative consumption.” When labor is described this way, involvement in the labor market becomes a case of rational behavior and maximization under constraint: The choice to engage in a remunerated activity can be understood entirely as a choice balancing the sacrifice of well-being...

  6. CHAPTER THREE Rationality and Uncertainty in the Artistʹs Life
    (pp. 104-141)

    The artist’s life has long been the subject of fables and legends. If we explore, as Ernst Kris and Otto Kurz have done, the literature on artists from classical antiquity to the present, we can assess the recurrence of such themes as the innate gift, precocity, self-teaching, and the role of chance in the discovery and consecration of talent.¹ These themes all transform artistic engagement into a vocation and the artist himself into a charismatic figure who, assuming luck comes his way, is driven exclusively by an inner need to realize himself through self-expression. The power of this stereotype derives...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR Talent and Reputation: Social Science Explanations for Varying Degrees of Success
    (pp. 142-235)

    In this chapter, I will examine how differences in remuneration and reputation are analyzed in the social sciences, and investigate why artists attain such widely varying degrees of success. The commonsense view is that the main cause of differences in artists’ success levels is talent. But how can talent be defined and to what source can it be traced? Theoretical frameworks surrounding giftedness and vocation provide a stereotypical answer: Talent is the expression of abilities that seem to originate in the genetic lottery (especially if they manifest themselves early in the artist’s life) as well as in the interaction between...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE How Can Artistic Greatness Be Analyzed? Beethoven and His Genius
    (pp. 236-284)

    Analyzing the career and the work of a great artist assumes that it is possible to describe a fragment of the history of the world subject to the laws of causality, and at the same time to endow the artist with the power to act: The artist’s greatness can then be characterized by his ability to change the predictable course of things (in the artistic world and beyond it, directly or indirectly, in the world in general)—an ability to which causes and reasons must be assigned. That is why works on artistic greatness or genius hesitate between several formulas....

  9. CHAPTER SIX Profiles of the Unfinished: Rodinʹs Work and the Varieties of Incompleteness
    (pp. 285-317)

    An artwork is usually conceived in the fine arts as a finished, lasting reality, complete, never changing—a candidate for material and cultural eternity. What happens to it later is separate, something completely formed being pulled into a turbulent future. Diverse viewpoints, readings, and incompatible interpretations give it multiple meanings. Diverse formats of exhibition, “publishing,” and diffusion create new connections, putting the artwork into changeable contexts where its meanings will be seen from new perspectives. Reproduction, in media which may not transmit all its original characteristics, or restoration, will subject it to an unforeseeable flow of uses and manipulations. The...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 318-322)

    At the end of the six chapters of this book, what does creative activity look like? In Chapter 6, I quoted Gilles-Gaston Granger’s remark that “quawork, aesthetic creation is one of our attempts to overcome the impossibility of theoretically grasping the individual.” This statement can serve to underline my reason for seeking to shift the focus of the analysis from employment and the artistic professions to the act of invention and its essential uncertainties.

    The general arc of the analysis structuring this book led me to lay the basis for a conception of action, and then to extract from...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 325-388)
  12. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 389-392)
  13. Index
    (pp. 393-405)