The elephant in the room? Class and creative collaboration in British advertising agencies

Charlotte Gilmore, S. O'Donohoe, B. Townley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Advertising in Britain has traditionally been the preserve of a middle-class, public school and Oxbridge-educated workforce. Although this narrow recruitment base is recognized as problematic, the influence of social class on advertising careers remains largely unexplored. This article explores the career trajectories of British advertising creatives from different social class backgrounds and the forms of capital at their disposal. Drawing on life history interviews with creatives, we explore how they got started, got in and got on in advertising careers. In particular, we highlight how the `working-class' creatives struggled to overcome the economic, social and cultural barriers they face in entering the industry. We suggest, however, that once `in', the influence of their social class background was more subtle and less detrimental, due to the social capital they accumulated en route and the value of their distinctive brand of cultural capital.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1011-1039
Number of pages29
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • advertising
  • collaborative working
  • creaive careers
  • life histories
  • social class


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