I’ve always considered QUT researcher Terry Flew to be one of Australia’s sharpest thinkers on culture and its industrial manifestations.
Now he’s published an excellent review article that traces the intellectual history and surveys the current field of ideas around the “cultural economy.” It’s in the current edition of the journal Cultural Science and you can read the full text here:
The Cultural Economy Moment?
The term “cultural economy” has gained considerable intellectual currency over the course of the 2000s.We have seen edited collections on cultural economy (du Gay and Pryke, 2002), a reader on the subject (Amin and Thrift, 2004), and the launch of the Journal of Cultural Economy. Such developments arise in part out of a growing interest among both academics and policy-makers in the creative industries (Hartley, 2005) and the associated notion of a creative economy (Venturelli, 2005; Scott, 2008a; UNCTAD, 2008). The growing international interest in creative cities and global city-regions can be connected to such developments (Scott et. al., 2001; Florida, 2002, 2008; Scott, 2008b), as can the rise of hybrid fields such as cultural-economic geography (James et. al., 2008). Such developments are also reflective of shifts in cultural policy towards conceiving of culture as a resource (Yúdice, 2003), and the rise of economic discourses within arts and cultural policy which, in cultural economist David Throsby’s account, see cultural policy ‘rescued from its primordial past and catapulted to the forefront of the modern forward-looking policy agenda, an essential component in any respectable economic policy-maker’s development strategy’ (Throsby, 2008: 228). Throsby associates this with a reframing of the arts, which are now seen as ‘part of a wider and more dynamic sphere of economic activity, with links through to the information and knowledge economies, fostering creativity, embracing new technologies, and feeding innovation’ (Throsby, 2008: 229).
Flew goes on to survey the development of the academic literature in this field, drawing on work from the fields of communication studies, cultural economics, the sociology of culture and the cultural political economy. For the academic readers of this bog, you’ll notice all the important names in the field: Towse, Throsby, Lash and Urry, Garnham, Bordieu, Scott, Hesmondhalgh and so on. There’s also a fascinating discussion of the term “neo-liberalism” as a term of abuse amongst cultural theorists against the creative industries movement (remember Toby Miller?)
This is probably the best short review of the field extant.