Drama at Disney: A Thematic Analysis of Creative Worker Identity Negotiation and Identification in the Documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty
Nairn, A; Matthews, J
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Work in creative organizations is often completed under intense working conditions. Due to the nature of the industry sector, creative workers must manage and deal with a range of factors related to their daily activities. These include multiple projects, tight deadlines and shifting schedules, to produce creative outputs that may have limited success in the marketplace. Despite the intensity of the work, the drive to create sets up conditions where creatives will self-exploit to meet work demands due to strong intrinsic motivations. This behaviour can leave creative workers susceptible to exploitation by employers because they offer a space for creative people to get resources and projects that meet these powerful intrinsic needs. To that end, creative people come to negotiate who they are within the constraints imposed by the work they do, and for this reason, we sought to thematically analyze the documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty (Hahn, 2009) to consider the intentional and unintentional construction of creative worker identity. We found that the identities of creatives could be categorized according to four themes: Creatives as passionate and/or exploited; Creatives as transformational, Creatives as subordinates, and Creatives as resistors. These themes revealed how animators negotiated their identities at a time when Disney Animation was experiencing several upheavals and suggested that identification with Disney could have both advantages and disadvantages for creative workers. The broader consideration from the themes alludes to a need to consider how to best provide for the creative worker while still capitalizing on the business needs of the creative economy.