Being in the zone of cultural work
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2016, 10:34 by Mark Banks
In the cultural industries, workers surrender themselves to ultra-intensive work patterns in order to be recognised as properly creative subjects. In its more affirmative versions, there is a recurrent idea that captures that special moment of creative synthesis between the ever-striving worker and the work – the moment of ‘being in the zone’. Being in the zone (hereafter BITZ) describes the ideal fusion of the intensively productive mind and the labouring body. But what precisely is this ‘zone’, and what is its’ potential? As part of a wider project examining exemplary and intensified subjectivity, in this article I examine BITZ from different perspectives. The main aim is to contrast affirmative readings of BITZ (mostly derived from ‘positive’ social psychology) with other, more critical perspectives that would seek to politicise the conditions of its emergence and examine its range of social effects. The overall aim of the article is therefore to suggest the kinds of social and cultural frameworks that might facilitate exploration of the political potential of BITZ in different kinds of empirical context.