The Economics of Creativity

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Harvard University Press, Jun 16, 2014 - Business & Economics - 416 pages
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Creative work has been celebrated as the highest form of achievement since at least Aristotle. But our understanding of the dynamics and market for creative work--artistic work in particular--often relies on unexamined clichés about individual genius, industrial engineering of talent, and the fickleness of fashion. Pierre-Michel Menger approaches the subject with new rigor, drawing on sociology, economics, and philosophy to build on the central insight that, unlike the work most of us do most of the time, creative work is governed by uncertainty. Without uncertainty, neither self-realization nor creative innovation is possible. And without techniques for managing uncertainty, neither careers nor profitable ventures would surface.

In the absence of clear paths to success, an oversupply of artists and artworks generates boundless differentiation and competition. How can artists, customers, entrepreneurs, and critics judge merit? Menger disputes the notion that artistic success depends solely on good connections or influential managers and patrons. Talent matters. But the disparity between superstardom and obscurity may hinge initially on minor gaps in intrinsic ability. The benefits of early promise in competition and the tendency of elite professionals to team up with one another amplify and disproportionately reward even small differences.

Menger applies his temporal and causal analysis of behavior under uncertainty to the careers and oeuvres of Beethoven and Rodin. The result is a thought-provoking book that brings clarity to our understanding of a world widely seen as either irrational or so free of standards that only power and manipulation count.

  

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Contents

Introduction
1
1 Time Causes and Reasons in Action
15
2 Is Working too Achieve SelfFulfillment Rational?
72
3 Rationality and Uncertainty in the Artists Life
104
Social Science Explanations for Varying Degrees of Success
142
5 How Can Artistic Greatness Be Analyzed? Beethoven and His Genius
236
Rodins Work and the Varieties of Incompleteness
285
Conclusion
318
Notes
325
Acknowledgments
389
Index
393
Copyright

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About the author (2014)

Pierre-Michel Menger is Professor of Sociology at the Collà ̈ge de France and the Ã%cole des Hautes Ã%tudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris.

Michele de La Pradelle (19441;2004) was director of studies at l'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and author of "Paris Luxe "and "Urbanisation et enjeux quotidiens." Amy Jacobs has translated a number of books, including "An Anthropology for Contemporaneous Worlds" by Marc AugE.

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