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Performers as workers

Deborah Dean was awarded funding by Warwick Business School for a pilot study focusing on the US entertainment industry, titled ‘Performers as Workers’. There is hardly any comparative international research in this area and the project draws on Dean’s previous work in the UK and continental Europe more widely (as reported in 2008). The central premise of the study is that performers are among the most visible workers in national economies, and US performers as an occupational group among the most visible in the world. Yet there is relatively little research on them as workers. There is correspondingly relatively little research on the interrelated activities of industry unions and employers in affecting issues around access to work in the entertainment industry, including those related to age, gender, race/ethnicity, and national and state legal regulation. Two periods of fieldwork in the US were undertaken in 2010, comprising semi-structured interviews with key individuals and samples of relevant occupational groups and sub-groups. The primary period of research was during Dean’s study leave in October, in the main theatre, film and television centres of New York City and Los Angeles. Analysis of the findings is ongoing.