The cultural industries are widely promoted as a solution to problems of de-industrialization and economic crisis - offering Western economies new jobs and sources of revenue. Furthermore, the cultural industries workplace, with its seemingly fluid and informal structures and boundless opportunities for creative expression appears to offer a seductive blueprint for the future needs of all work. But is this really so? Mark Banks investigates the constraints and freedoms of cultural work and, in particular, the ways in which different sociological traditions have sought to theorize the cultural workplace and the creative cultural worker are assessed. Drawing on critical theory, governmentality and liberal-democratic approaches, this book gets to the heart of cultural work and the 'art-commerce relation' that it contains - it asks, are cultural workers at the vanguard of a new autonomy, or merely the alienated victims of the 'culture industry'?