In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Cultural and Creative Industries

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Journals
  • Clusters and Creative Cities
  • Creative Labor
  • Cultural and Creative Industries in Asia
  • Study Methods

Communication Cultural and Creative Industries
Terry Flew
  • LAST REVIEWED: 18 October 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 September 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0188


The cultural and creative industries refer to those parts of the modern economy where culture is produced and distributed through industrial means, applying the creativity of individuals and groups to the generation of original cultural product, which may have commercial value either through direct sale to consumers or as intellectual property. The cultural and creative industries typically bring together the arts, media, and design sectors, with a focus upon convergent digital technologies and the challenges and opportunities of globalization. While discussion of the cultural and creative industries can be traced back to the 1940s, it was in the 1990s and 2000s that they came to prominence as both an academic and a policy issue. Policy strategies to develop the cultural and creative industries are typically associated with expanding markets for cultural goods and services. They seek to develop these industries by promoting innovation and creativity, leading to the development of original forms of intellectual property and supporting industries based around culture and entertainment. In some instances, such as culture-led urban regeneration strategies, cultural and creative industries are positioned as an alternative to traditional manufacturing industries. As an academic field, interest in the cultural and creative industries has ranged across communication, media and cultural studies, economic and cultural geography, the creative and performing arts, and applied cultural economics. Some authors have seen critical analysis of these industries as an important way of bringing academic work together with cultural producers, particularly in new industries in the digital economy. Others have been concerned about the negative consequences of these industries, including the commodification of culture and the growing precarity of creative labor.

General Overviews

As a relatively new academic field, there are not a lot of core texts. Hesmondhalgh 2013 has gone through three editions since 2002 and provides a starting point for a critical perspective on the cultural industries, informed both by political economy and by cultural studies. Hartley 2005 was the first anthology to be developed about the creative industries, which sought both to define a new concept for an academic audience and to draw out its key dimensions. Flew 2012 and Flew 2013 provide a synthesis of creative industries, with a policy focus and a global perspective, respectively. Caves 2002 applies the framework of new institutional economics to the creative industries, while Howkins 2002 aligns the creative economy to questions around copyright and intellectual property. Davies and Sigthorsson 2013 considers the implications of the creative industries concept for working in its requisite industries, such as music, fashion, and design.

  • Caves, R. E. 2002. Creative industries: Contracts between art and commerce. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

    Economic overview that introduced several concepts that would become highly influential, including “A-list”/“B-list,” the firm as a nexus of contracts, endemic uncertainty about consumer demand in the creative industries, infinite variety of creative products, and the concept of “rents” that accrue over time from successful creative products.

  • Davies, R., and G. Sigthorsson. 2013. Introducing the creative industries: From theory to practice. London: SAGE.

    Designed for a student readership, this book provides a straightforward overview of concepts such as creative businesses, portfolio careers, and types of creative goods and services. Has very useful case studies and biographical accounts of London-based creative workers.

  • Flew, T. 2012. The creative industries: Culture and policy. London: SAGE.

    This book situates creative industries as both a policy concept and as the subject of debate from cultural studies. It considers how different creative industries policies have developed internationally and questions the claim that the rise of creative industries policies can be seen as simply an effect of neoliberal political ideologies.

  • Flew, T. 2013. Global creative industries. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

    Relates the processes of production and consumption in the creative industries to wider global circuits of culture, as well as digital technologies. Has an extended discussion of the relationship of cultural policies applied at the level of cities and nations, and how they relate to a global creative economy.

  • Hartley, J., ed. 2005. Creative industries. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

    This anthology sought to organize the emergent field around the themes of creative cities, creative economy, creative practice, creative enterprises, and a creative world.

  • Hesmondhalgh, D. 2013. The cultural industries. 3d ed. London: SAGE.

    Hesmondhalgh’s book has become a textbook standard over three editions. Its focus is primarily upon the media industries rather than the arts, and the author expresses a strong preference for the term cultural industries. It explores the contradictions between individual creativity and corporate business practices at some length.

  • Howkins, J. 2002. The creative economy: How people make money from ideas. London: Penguin.

    Howkins’s book was one of the first to popularize the concept of a creative economy and the wider economic significance of creative work. It identified a strong connection between copyright and the creative economy and questioned the tendency to associate the concept with the arts and not with the sciences, which he also saw as being creative.

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