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February 28, 2014


David Ward

These figures aren't for the arts. They are largely for the commercial creative sector - tv, advertising, radio etc...


I don't buy the assumption that there's less competition among ad agencies than among banks.

A different, better, explanation is that different ethnic groups have different average abilities.

Some do well in both the arty and the finance sectors (eg Ashkenazim, who have high verbal and high general cognitive ability). Others don't do very well in either.


Difficult to fairly compare these populations that would have different ethnic make ups largely due to the hugely different rates of international vs intranational recruitment, for obvious reasons other than racism or similar.

Socialism In One Bedroom

I suppose the arts are also quite elitist, in that artists tend to come from the upper middle classes - another type of monopoly and one that 'competition' tends to have little affect upon - funny that!

And do we have to repeat the argument that competition begets monopoly and monopoly begets competition?

Also the state tends to intervene in capitalist economies by necessity, sometimes reducing the poverty levels. So there are stats on poverty before government intervention and after. I think in Denmark, for example, government intervention reduces poverty by 20% or so.

Social mobility stats from the 1980's to present put 'free market' nations such as the USA bottom of the league and high interventionist nations, such as Sweden, at the top of the social mobility league.

Now, you might think all I've said here is standard pro-statist stuff. But there's an implication for the left. We don't achieve equality merely by assuming economic determinism, and letting the chips fall where they will. We do it by agency, and agency cannot come via individuals with good intentions but by class dynamics, large groups actually making revolutionary changes based on shared interests.


How about language skills as a factor? Given the English/Welsh (and to a lesser extent Scottish) education system, white Britons are unlikely to speak another language proficiently , and there's a minute probability that they do so if they have studied STEM/Econ type things.


To have the kind of competition in the arts that there is in finance would be absurd.

Do the arts even have real workers?


Plus, "state-subsidised" yes, but still mostly private.

And it's a right-wing state.


And finance is the industry I work in, but I'm not certain the people in it are more competent than those in the arts.


As Andrew hints, the big issue missing here is the question of work visas, etc.

Try getting a visa for a foreigner to work in your local arts organisation - or even put on a concert. Compare that with the ease of pulling in yet another foreigner into a City institution...


The prevalence of internships in the arts I think is another factor here. Whereas the City tends to award those with good degrees who are prepared to work hard, many arts institutions require people to work for free for some time to get a foot in the door. This option is only really available to rich (generally white) people, and enforces discrimination. That is back to your point about structure vs agency of course


Is that why there are so many women and black guys running British banks then?

I work in advertising. The reason it's mostly white is because it attracts people with such a high degree of cultural capital and family wealth that they don't need to worry about maximising earnings or entrenching their class advantage. I'm surrounded by people with trust funds and 3rd generation Oxbridge degrees.


For another sporting parallel, there's the apocryphal tales of Jock Stein at Celtic - when faced with the option of signing two players of equal ability, one Catholic and on Protestant, he would sign the Protestant knowing that Rangers would refuse to sign the Catholic.


As someone who has done a lot of recruitment for trading desks I can concur with this. Prior to the crash desks worked hard at assessing individuals' ability and at staff development for the simple reason that a successful hire could ultimately make us all rich. Most desks I worked on were a mix of nationalities and backgrounds. There were few women but very few women applied.

I can't speak for others but I think most of my colleagues liked the mix of people on the desk and were proud of their record of recruiting from a broad mix of people.


From the 80s on, managerialism and flat hierarchy structures came into being. That meant staff got measured and nice but dim duffers could not hide within protective departments.

Hiring got more and more involved with all sorts of hoops to get through for the bottom level jobs but, ironically, not at the top.

Low level jobs are high skill proportioned. So are top soccer players, black or white.

This might explain why competence to do the job rather than fit into a stereotyped image came to the for.

Arts are more individualistic and highly chance based. A good actor /writer can struggle for years of rejection then one lucky good role /book and she is made.

Where jobs are directly public or client facing the stereotypes still apply. The party leader is white, the leading actor is white etc - prejudiced to suit the electorate /audience expectation more than for any candidate ability.

Institutions that protect the weak and poor allowing them an opportunity to thrive are constantly under attack by the right. EU benefits to the disadvantaged are cried down, the Civil Service and NHS are attacked with privatisation, Grammar Schools are not allowed to expand, Sure Start and educational funding is cut back. The USA right are paranoid that Big Government is evil and out to get them etc.
Prejudice and irrationality to them beats logic any time.

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