The Importance of This Topic
The Migrant Creative: U.S. Media Freelancers at the Border of a Changing Work Culture is
a story about creative individuals traversing the new work frontier. Freelancers, rather than
being marginalized, are now being institutionalized within the business structure. As the job
market morphs into a new model free of perks, offices, insurance or the promise of a
steady paycheck – it is important to study how freelancers are navigating this shifting
workforce culture and many for decades.
The film, television, music, video gaming, advertising and Internet-driven industries regularly
employ contract workers and this phenomenon is growing across all business sectors.
Professionals with varying skills come together for relatively short periods of time,
contribute to a project, and then leave. Some production and creative teams retain the
same loose-knit network for years.
These eleven project participants, intersecting with many multimedia domains (see
Appreciative Reflections), teach us invaluable commonsense strategies about
organizational teamwork – and who works? The project participants’ individual
conversations create a composite image of life as a migrant creative and these lessons are
pertinent for all consultants.
After an extensive search for ethnographies or biographical work narratives examining the
lifestyle of media freelancers, I found limited in-depth personal stories or work histories of
everyday folks working in the industry. What emerged were excellent academic
summations of the media industry at specific points in time and descriptions of the
precariousness of freelance work, however the people were nameless, faceless and lacked
an extended U.S. work history (see Methodology).
The 21st Century Workforce: Moving Toward Greater Improvisation and
Collaboration; Shifting From Independent to Interdependent
The terms “real job” and “independent” worker are already being redefined at the beginning
century to reflect an “interdependent” reality that incorporates a more mobile,
transient workforce and the freelancer is on the frontline of this change. The nature of
competition in the workforce is still about hiring the “best and brightest” but evolving to