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[- Does anyone actually want to be a "cultural worker"?
By Aileen, Section question corner
Posted on Tue Apr 15th, 2003 at 05:11:22 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
Does anyone dream of becoming a cultural worker when they grow up? I have met future computer game programmers, future web designers, future special effects experts, even a future DVD menu designer, but I have yet to meet a kid who wants to be a cultural worker someday. Maybe they just don't know about that possibility yet? Or maybe I just know smart kids.


[ --------------------------------------------- ]

In fact, I am not a cultural worker myself. As stated on my business license, I am a translator. By chance, all the translation work I do involves art and culture, broadly speaking. What bothers me is that descriptions of "cultural workers" - from the EU conference "Cultural Competence" to the discussion series "Establish Cultural Worker" to globalization discussions - all seem to apply not only to the people I work with, but also to me. And despite all the advantages of being able to work independently, creatively, able to choose jobs and times and places for working, more and more it seems we are all suffering from the same familiar problems. As I see people all around me suffering from burn-out, recurring illnesses and general frustration, I think there must be a better solution than commiseration. But finding solutions - that are not just individual solutions - seems to require yet more work. And it's not even paid.

[ --------------------------------------------- ]

Does anyone actually want to be a "cultural worker"? | 9 comments
[new] 'cultural producers' (Avg. Score: 3.00 / Raters: 1) (#3)
by saul on Fri Apr 18th, 2003 at 08:35:54 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME
(User Info)

I'm definitely against 'cultural work', or even worse, 'cultural production'. I have recently banned myself from using this term.

The Copenhagen Free University's ( research into 'Knowledge Production' describes the 'proletarianization' of the knowledge industries. This is what the term 'cultural worker' signifies to me.. a kind of info-wage slavery (self-imposed of course) in which a de-unionised, casualised work force shuffle information around faster and faster.

The solution (according to the CFU) lies in valorising non-productive activities, discontinuous, attritious behaviour and sensual experience.

I must admit though, I'm a half-willing participant in all this.

My solution is that on my 30th birthday I'm going to rm all my email accounts and try going off-line for 10 years or so.

  • going off-line by Aileen, 04/29/2003 09:22:23 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME (none / 0)
    • communication withdrawal by amyalexander, 05/01/2003 02:26:53 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME (3.00 / 2)
      • tv by TreborScholz, 05/13/2003 08:18:05 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME (none / 0)
[new] how does this differ in different countries? (Avg. Score: 2.00 / Raters: 2) (#1)
by amyalexander on Tue Apr 15th, 2003 at 07:47:47 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
(User Info)

i often wonder how this differs between europe and the US, for example. i often wish i'd gotten started in the 'culture industry' earlier - but i knew very little of it growing up in outer philadelphia - except that you couldn't earn a living at things like that.... people had to worry about putting food on the table, not making a dent on culture... especially since one had to take out big loans to pay for higher education, it was very important to study something pragmatic so one didn't wind up in financial ruin. and cultural jobs weren't pragmatic... i don't get the sense that's changed, from my students now... (and i'm still paying off my student loans. :-))

then again, you can't really predict what's pragmatic. i grew up during what turned out to be the late cold war, when computer science jobs were plentiful and CS was considered one of the most practical degrees. (but i didn't get one of those anyway. :-)) then there was a lull in the US tech industry early-mid nineties, followed by dot com boom, followed by the current bust... i'm not sure that means there are now more unemployed programmers than culture workers, but what appears to be pragmatic at one moment certainly isn't at the next...

back to countries: does this differ in europe? europeans at least don't typically pay for higher education, correct? how about asia? a lot of my past and present students come from asian and asian-american backgrounds and seem to have a similar mindset towards pragmatism, but that may be a skewed demographic (students in california or who have decided to attend school there.)

[new] I am a cultural worker / different countries (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#8)
by HenrikSchrat ( on Sat May 10th, 2003 at 02:22:28 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
(User Info)

Funny, I never really thought about problems with the term, though it says on my business card 'cultural worker' Though, in German. Kulturarbeiter. It might be not really comparable, as the term is a bit awkward in German, in english it is quite common obviously. (and used as english term in Geman speaking contexts funny enough.) To make the long story short: I think the term is correct, pragmatic and OK. Long I had nothing on my business card, or better: I did not have one, oh no, artists dont have one. Than I came to the poing having one, without any profession. And than came the point of coming down to earth, as I would call it, putting ARTIST under my name. Thats the context I am fiddeling around in, thats where most of the feedback comes from, and a lot of my friends are in that field. So I thought I should stop beeing so pretentious I AM DIFFERENT, and put ARTIST there. I dont like it, of course, becaus ART is problematic and so on.
And than, I think 3 years later came the point where I changed it into CULTURAL WORKER. It just seems to cover the field I am working in. For bette or worse: I think it is a clear and pragmatic term. Okay Okay, what is actually CULTURE and what is WORK...

8-) Schrat

[new] Different perceptions? (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#4)
by Aileen on Tue Apr 29th, 2003 at 09:12:25 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME
(User Info)

Am I interpreting you both correctly, when it seems that "cultural worker" / "culture industry" does not have a negative connotation for Amy, but it does for Saul? At a panel discussion in conjunction with the presentation of the reader on the series "Establish Cultural Worker", a union representative pointed out that phrases in English are most commonly used in Austria to disguise something that would otherwise be more critically questioned, but I think that is actually one of the reasons why the term "cultural worker" so often has a negative connotation here. The union representative claimed that when there is mention of "cultural workers", it is usually really a case of an "Americanization" of working situations, which he obviously regarded as a highly negative development. One suggestion that came up in the discussion was that the term "work" needs to be more politicized, but more people thought that it is "culture" that should be more politicized.

  • connotations by amy, 05/01/2003 02:39:17 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME (2.00 / 1)
Does anyone actually want to be a "cultural worker"? | 9 comments

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