Date of this Version
Poetics: Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media and the Arts
Cultural industry workers at times compromise the values and tastes that are important parts of their artistic identities to accommodate commercial demands. I argue that workers resolve frustrations that arise from such compromises through identity work, individuals’ active construction of their identities in social contexts. Using ethnographic data from fieldwork at a reality television production company, I describe two identity work strategies, distancing and evaluative tweaking, that workers use to maintain their artistic integrity despite producing work that does not meet their standards of quality. The manner through which these strategies emerged during micro social interaction differed between managers and non-managers. Managers used distancing and evaluative tweaking to simultaneously do identity work and regulate their employees’ identities when justifying decisions that threatened shared values and tastes. On the other hand, employees distanced themselves from managers while venting to colleagues about managers’ decisions that conflicted with their idiosyncratic values and tastes. These dynamics are illustrated through a setting that has received insufficient ethnographic attention, reality television production. Some reality television workers prefer to portray “real” and “authentic” situations. These workers employ identity work strategies to maintain artistic integrity when distorting reality to create the drama and conflict they consider marketable.
© 2012. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
cultural industries, work, identity, managers, authenticity, reality television
Wei, Junhow. 2012. "Dealing With Reality: Market Demands, Artistic Integrity, and Identity Work in Reality Television Production." Poetics: Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media and the Arts 40 (5): 444-466. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.poetic.2012.07.002
American Popular Culture Commons, Arts Management Commons, Communication Commons, Other Film and Media Studies Commons, Social Psychology and Interaction Commons, Sociology of Culture Commons, Television Commons, Work, Economy and Organizations Commons
Date Posted: 19 May 2016
This document has been peer reviewed.