Dynamic mapping of the UK's creative industries

30 Jan 2013

Dynamic Mapping of the UK’s Creative Industries (125), by Hasan Bakhshi, Peter Higgs and Alan Freeman of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCI), adopts a definition of creative occupation as ones with “a role within the creative process that brings cognitive skills to bear to bring about differentiation to yield either novel, or significantly enhanced products whose final form is not fully specified in advance”.

This paper argues that, despite its strengths, the UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) classification of the creative industries contains inconsistencies which need to be addressed to make it fully fit for purpose. It presents an improved methodology which retains the strengths of the DCMS’s approach while addressing its deficiencies. The authors focus on creative intensity: the proportion of total employment within an industry that is engaged in creative occupations.

This analysis brings to light inconsistencies that undermine the strengths of the DCMS definition as a de facto world standard, and will detract from the understanding which it has brought to the study of the creative economy, above all under conditions of structural economic change, such as digitisation.

Using the list of occupations which DCMS treats as ‘creative’, the intensity of the industries it defines as creative falls within a narrow range – with only minor exceptions – that is on average over 25 times greater than in the rest of the economy. This is a defining characteristic of such industries. However, DCMS’s choice of industries excludes important codes with high creative intensity that account for large amounts of employment.

In addition, DCMS’s choice of occupations is itself open to question, because the criteria by which they are classified as ‘creative’ are not clear. The authors propose a rigorous method for determining which occupations are creative, scoring all occupations against a ‘grid’ of five theoretically grounded criteria. The grid score of those occupations that DCMS considers as creative also lies in a range significantly above the grid scores of other, non-creative occupations. However, as with its choice of industries, DCMS’s choice of occupations excludes codes that account for significant employment and which, on the strength of a rigorous classification, should be included. It also includes a small minority of codes which should be excluded.

The authors then propose a fully consistent classification by using these occupations to identify, on grounds of creative intensity, those industries that appear inappropriately included and excluded in the DCMS industrial classification (our ‘baseline’). They conduct a sensitivity analysis to show that this classification lays the basis for a robust and consistent selection of industry codes. This accords with the reality, which should be squarely faced, that uncertainty is a defining feature of emergent areas subject to persistent structural change like the creative industries, and should be dealt with in a systematic way.

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