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Expat agencies: Transnational communities in the British and Dutch creative industries

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHope, uncertainty and creative aspiration: pathways into new working lives.
EditorsStephanie Taylor, Susan Luckman
Publisher or commissioning bodyPalgrave Macmillan
DateSubmitted - Jan 2019


Drawing on 33 interviews with workers at 11 graphic design, brand design and strategic design agencies in the UK and the Netherlands, this chapter takes two countries with very different work-time regimes so as to understand the commonalities between the creative industries in each, and from where they arise. Despite a wide divergence in working hours between the two, working time regimes in the creative industries surveyed in the case study can be seen to converge. Evidence from the case study suggests that even where national average working hours differ, the creative industries maintain a single unified work-hours culture through a constant flow of expatriation- specifically, in this case, of young British designers from the UK to the Netherlands. This convergence suggests that creative industries constitute a 'global' space above and beyond the specificities of the national context in which they are situated institutionally. The research uncovers some indications of how this global status is constructed. To compensate for the typical four-day week worked by Dutch nationals, Amsterdam design firms encourage UK designers to migrate from London, who, with no family ties or friendship networks, bring with them an expectation of long, intense work schedules developed in a much different national context, in distinction from the family-oriented work schedules of Dutch designers who build work around life rather than the reverse. In this way, creative industries may be seen to attain their global work-time regime from an exploitation of the work-time regimes of expatriates. The chapter concludes by suggesting that, by reinstating a conceptualisation of expatriation as a form of labour, its exploitative aspects, which unfold subject to the imperatives on firms and their branches to escape national contexts and establish a more global or transnational disposition, can be brought to light and critically scrutinised.



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