The Business of Being Creative: The Professionalization of Graphic Design in Lancaster, PA
Batta, Christine Elizabeth
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Through collecting the perspectives of graphic designers in Lancaster, PA on design community, the profession’s place in the world, and the challenges and payoffs facing those in the field, it became clear that designers see graphic design as caught between the worlds of bureaucratic business and creative visual arts, with its respectability in flux as a result of the confusion. The conflict between business and artistic ethos reveals the greater conflict in the changing profession’s growing credentializing and bureaucratic systems. Graphic designers must be able to legitimize the value of their commodified work in terms of the capitalist market. This is just one among many examples of unrelenting commodification’s influence on professions. As graphic designers relate to the creative ethos while also seeking respectability, the artistic individual charisma is institutionalized into systemized networks of credentials. When Max Weber’s theory of rational routinization of religion is applied to professions, it comes to mean that an individual can gain prestige through charisma but that a group of individuals trying to gain prestige for a profession must rationally routinize their community in order to communicate their worth to outsiders. Here, one can be persuaded by charisma to believe in the worth of an individual while the worth of a group has to be systematically established because group identities are harder to understand from the outside. In addition to the business ethos’s strength in the capitalist West, this reasoning of rational routinization explains why it is an unavoidable process. Graphic designers seek the legitimization of their profession rather than legitimization of themselves as individual designers because organized networks are the routinization mechanism of capitalism. The unyielding forces of commodification demand that work be translated into standardized terms of economic value. This is the cultural context in which graphic designers desire respect and then enter the process of rational routinization.
Franklin and Marshall College Archives, Undergraduate Honors Thesis 2009
- F&M Theses Collection