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‘Northernness’, gender and Manchester’s creative industries

Milestone, K (2016) ‘Northernness’, gender and Manchester’s creative industries. Journal for Cultural Research. pp. 45-59. ISSN 1479-7585

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Abstract

This article explores northernness and gender in the context of creative industries in Manchester. I argue that a version of northernness has been mobilised by those within the creative industries and that this identity is strongly linked with masculinity. The article examines the emergence of new creative industries in Manchester from the 1980s onwards. Many of these new creative industries were connected with music and club culture and often prioritised ‘lads’ and their interests. The ‘heritage’ and influence of this seedbed stage of Manchester’s creative industries and the dominant discourses about Manchester’s pop cultural creativity has had a profound influence on the ‘gendering’ of subsequent creative industries in this city. A paradigm of northern ‘laddishness’ pervades the creative sector in Manchester, and this is amplified and sustained by a powerful, media fuelled, cultural identity of the city and its popular culture. A number of local specificities have had an impact on linking creativity to ‘northern’ masculinity in the Manchester case. This has contributed to the ascendency of closed, male-dominated networks in the creative sector. This appears to stand in the way of women’s full access to, and participation in, the city’s creative industries. I suggest that all empirical case studies of creative industries could find value in reflecting on the local context and specificities of place. Using Manchester as a case study, I argue that place-specific identities could productively be explored in debates about exclusion and underrepresentation of women in creative industries.

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