“The Whole Feminist Taking-Your-Clothes-off Thing”: Negotiating the Critique of Gender Inequality in UK Music Industries



KEYWORDS, Creative labour, Inequalities, Industrial Reflexivity, Major record labels, Post-feminism.


This article considers the critique of inequality, exploitation and exclusion in contemporary UK music industries, in light of the latter’s growing internal concerns over work-based gender relations. The creative sector’s persistent inequalities are at odds with its professed liberal, egalitarian, meritocratic values and attitudes. Yet, within music’s industrial production cultures, a dismissive postfeminist sensibility has come under pressure through a reflexive critical moment of popular feminist discourse, expressed in trade press critique, between 2013 and the present moment. Drawing from a study of intermediary work in UK major record labels, the article takes a pragmatist approach to documenting and theorizing this critique – alongside institutional mechanisms, like company policies and corporate PR, that respond to it – in terms of growing industrial reflexivity. Tensions over the representation of work, the nature of inequality, intergenerational and epistemic injustice emerge as key themes, with implications for critical research on popular music industries.

Author Biography

Toby Bennett, Solent University

Research Fellow, Research & Innovation, Solent University



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