It has now been over a decade since the concept of creative industries was first put into the public domain by the Blair Labour government's Creative Industries Mapping Documents in Britain. The concept has gained traction globally, but it has also been understood and developed in different ways in Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and North America, as well as through international bodies such as UNCTAD and UNESCO.
A review of the policy literature reveals that although questions and issues remain around definitional coherence, there is some degree of consensus emerging about the size, scope, and significance of the sectors in question in both advanced and developing economies. At the same time, debate about the concept remains highly animated in media, communication, and cultural studies, with its critics dismissing the concept outright as a harbinger of neoliberal ideology in the cultural sphere.
This article couches such critiques in light of recent debates surrounding the intellectual coherence of the concept of neoliberalism, arguing that this term itself possesses problems when taken outside of the Anglo-American context in which it originated. It is argued that issues surrounding the nature of participatory media culture, the relationship between cultural production and economic innovation, and the future role of public cultural institutions can be developed from within a creative industries framework and that writing off such arguments as a priori ideological and flawed does little to advance debates about twentieth-century information and media culture.