The Wageless Life of Creative Workers: Alternative Economic Practices, Commoning and Consumption Work in Cultural Labour

Ana Alacovska*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This article argues the importance of considering wageless life and related post-wage regimes of work in the study of creative and cultural labour. Such consideration is necessary to understand how creative workers persevere in their profession, dedicating substantial amounts of time to making art in spite of prolonged precarity and low, irregular or non-existent wages. The article revisits sociological studies of creative work and finds that although such studies have tended to neglect the wageless life of creative workers they have nonetheless implicitly identified a range of alternative economic activities and ‘consumption work’ practices that go beyond wages and formal contractual employment. These activities include everyday strategies for ‘getting by’, such as barter, self-provisioning, commoning, thrift and downshifting. A systematic and sustained focus on wageless life that treats work as deeply enmeshed in everyday life is needed in order to make manifest the hidden politics of contemporary post-waged creative work.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)673-692
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Published online: November 16, 2021.


  • Alternative economies
  • Artistic work
  • Care commoning
  • Consumption work
  • Creative industries
  • Creative work
  • Cultural labour
  • Downshifting
  • Informal work
  • Informality post-wage regimes of work

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