9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN19 Sociology of Professions

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 Careers and Professional Paths Building I, Auditório 1

Working and living as artist: careers and professional paths

The profound changes which we assist today in the organisation of the artistic, creative and cultural worlds substantiate our interest in artistic careers and professional paths, labour markets and their dynamics. Recently, an important number of authors discuss the situation faced currently by artists in the areas of dance, music, theatre, visual arts, their characteristics and how they have evolved.
Sociologists and economists analysing these markets have drawn attention to the considerable growth in the number and the diversity of artists in Europe, United States or Australia. These research studies show that artists are mostly young, qualified, inventive and mobile, comparing to other labour markets. Furthermore, the results have been able to show how they move in networks and multiply around different sectors of activity and a series of distinct works. These studies generally point towards the development of new ways of working which are based on the extreme flexibility of artistic careers, on their increasing autonomy and on innovative forms of working.
However, these studies also demonstrate the "dark side" of the growth of this population: the amount of artistic work increases less quickly than the number of individuals involved, increasing the competition, inequalities and differences in the level of activity. They are also dependent of a number of mediation and gatekeeping processes which are fundamental for career legitimation and professional affirmation, but which tend to be quite asymmetrical and to promote selectivity.
The aim of this paper is to present some preliminary conclusions of an ongoing research project on these topics, departing from the specific analysis of the career paths of performing artists and musicians, and how they work and live in Portugal. We inquire which formative paths do these individuals follow, and how do the different types of work and employment methods combine. Taking into account the most recent theoretical contributions and the results of countless empirical research studies realized in Europe, EUA and Portugal, adopting a multidisciplinary approach, we will give special attention to the artist "moonlighting career paths" and the importance of a "second job" in these art worlds.