Finding work in contemporary society calls not only for academic qualifications but also for social networks as David Lee noted in his 2005-2006 research. He noted that networking is the main means to navigate through a career particularly in an independent television career such as film-making. In his research on networks, cultural capital, and creative labour in the British Independent Television industry, he discovered that 72% of his respondents got their jobs through a network of contacts. This shows that the television job market has changed. Gone are the days when academic qualifications mattered; now, what matters is how well you connect with people although, one’s capabilities also matter. However, even though networks play a vital role in securing work in the industry, I feel that merit and talent are also crucial. Television work requires people of high capability rather than merely just a friend or relative. Nevertheless, maintaining a network of contacts is a crucial determinant of success in the television industry. Some of the points noted in his research are; networking and labour transformation, social capital, cultural capital, exclusion and discrimination, the strength of weak ties, social position and race, and networking and mobility. This paper will critically analyse those areas.

Network and labour transformation

In his report, Lee noted that networking is crucial in fostering interactions, which in turn directs one to opportunities in the television industry. People who enter insecure labour markets such as the freelance world ought to establish networks if they need to succeed in the television industry (Lee 2008, p.3807-3819). This is so true because independent media practitioners such as film-makers do not depend on employment. Having interactions with people especially those who have already made it makes it simpler for them to find work. For example, being referred for some film making directing by a friend because someone has previously interacted with them. However, networks have not fully transformed the labour industry because some employers still look at what an individual can deliver in terms of quality. He argues that these networks have economic functions whereby it provides routes for cultural producers to enter the television market. They also enhance the exchange of ideas resulting in creative work within a cultural industry. As a result of the creative work, the network culture helps a company gain a competitive advantage (Pratt 2002, p.50-66). Lee also emphasizes network sociality in which individuals relate based on data exchange rather than common history or mutual experience. He says that his respondents rely on this kind of interaction for finding and maintaining work. He adds that all his respondents agree that networking is vital in the television industry.


Networks and Social Capital

Lee talks about social capital as a means of sustaining inequality. Claims are that inequality has been a major challenge in gaining access to the audio-visual job market (Holgate and McKay 2007). Social capital involves the skills, values, and norms that enable one to socialize. However, Lee claims that having the right skills of interactions, and utilizing the skills in networking, counters inequality in the television industry. I tend to agree with this because inequality has been there all along and making use of one’s social skills such as good communication, listening to others, and establishing friendships is the new normal. For instance, if a film-maker does not go out, network with people and create contacts that will help secure jobs and instead keeps making formal job applications, it is likely they will claim there is inequality. Furthermore, to get a network of contacts, one needs to present oneself as flexible, enthusiastic, and mobile (Lee 2008, p.552). This can be done by way of the internet or moving around physically. Therefore, to find contacts, one must make good use of the social capital they possess.

Networking with Weak Ties

In terms of ties, Lee argues that weak ties are more functional in ITPS as opposed to strong ties. He says that to make it in the industry, it is advisable to make ties with business partners and acquaintances (weak ties) rather than close family members and friends (strong ties). This is applicable because strong ties are likely to have the same knowledge but weak ties have a diversity of knowledge. Furthermore, when relating to strong ties, a person is likely to strengthen the bond of friendship and trust with them as opposed to weak ties where they are likely to exchange knowledge. (Granovetter 1973, p.1360-1380) noted that a person is more likely to find about job opportunities through loose ties than strong ties. The reason being the loose ties relate to different social circles and so they are much exposed to different information. However, I feel that strong ties are as important as weak ties in the ITPS industry. Social networks are there to assist a person. Therefore, if someone has a genuinely close friend or family member, they will have access to work opportunities (Antcliff, Saundry and Stuart 2007, pp.371-393). For example, one respondent in Lee’s research noted that her mother helped her in getting a job. She accompanied her to a party where she was introduced to a person who already was in the industry. Thus, strong ties are useful. Also, loose ties may prefer to help someone they know better, so, if one is depending on them, they may not help.

Class and Exclusion in Networking

While networking seems to be the gateway for success in the industry, it creates discrimination and exclusion. The researcher noted that some people may never have the opportunity due to their socio-economic position. Additionally, race plays a role in networking. Poverty leads to some people being excluded. Lee conceives that though the networking culture seems to be accessible and open to everyone, only those with a high social status are privileged (p. 555). Additionally, even if those with low social status fit in the networking culture, it may be very hard for them to sustain their position since new people are not paid. Nevertheless, I find this view not convincing because no matter a person’s social status or class, if the person is delivering quality work and can relate well with others, that person can often find ways to navigate through their career. Social status does not have to limit a person from achieving their dreams, determination and commitment will force the person to fit in the networking culture. A low-class person can network with a high-class person (Erickson 1996, pp.217-251). About the race, one of Lee’s respondent says that race is also linked to success in the television industry. He talks of everybody speaking the ‘queen’s English’ citing that blacks are very few. On the other hand, I differ with the view since, in the contemporary media industry, many blacks doing quality work, for instance, on the BBC.

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How Cultural Capital fosters Networking

Cultural capital is seen as another factor for defining success in the networking culture. It encompasses things like education, knowledge, and style. It facilitates access to the network through the communication and cognitive skills accrued to it. Lee conceives that such factors as taste and confidence enable one to establish friendships and by this, the person can get work connections. Similarly, I find this asset crucial because no matter the qualifications one possesses, having the right knowledge and style to relate with people will be advantageous. He talks about confidence as a major determinant in the industry. This is true because it enables one to confront people who have the capacity of helping. (Oakley and Erskine 2004, p.255-273), stresses the importance of personal attributes such as confidence as a major key in entering cultural industries. One of Lee’s interviewees says that the most basic cultural capital is being able to get along with people. Being enthusiastic and social is what helped him network and gain access to the industry. He adds that if people find one easy to work with, then definitely one will make it to television. Another respondent stressed on the need to have the right tone when communicating while another one talked of being nice to people. All these attributes combined are a major gate-pass to the industry.


Lee noticed some barriers associated with entering the television industry one of them is relying on contacts to find about work. This is backed up by a lack of transparency in this industry. One respondent said that jobs are never advertised. Thus it is upon an individual to take personal responsibility and connect to a network that will help them find the jobs. So word of mouth rules in the industry as he describes. He also pointed out that the nature of networking is often done when one is young in the career but many people find it hard because they do not have much in common with the people they are trying to connect with. It may be other people are already experienced and as a young person, it becomes hard to associate with them. Contrary, I conceive the need to have a network and lack of transparency should not be a barrier to a person who is committed and determined. Even though networks matter, a person can be driven by passion and produce quality work as a freelancer and at the end of it the quality products will sell their services and as a result, they will get jobs. Therefore, being young in the industry or jobs not being advertised should not be a barrier, rather, they should act as pushing forces through determination.

Mobility and Stasis

To establish networks, having an adaptable self is critical to success. Successful networkers often know how to locate sources of information (Boltanski and Chiapello 2005, p.113). Lee argues that even though it is difficult to gain access to the television industry, there is always a need for mobility. On the other hand, he termed fixity and stasis as a way of failing. He argues that by changing working environments, a person gains access to more strong networks that give the person access to knowledge and contacts. Nonetheless, I differ with his sentiments. Even though mobility comes with the advantages of new contacts, being fixed and static in one company will still earn one knowledge and contacts. As long as a person’s services are quality, without doubts, they will be in demand and will still succeed. Fixity and stasis do not necessarily mean that someone is not learning. For instance, in the case of the BBC, producers still do learn just like freelancers. Given that it is difficult to secure a job in the industry, some people choose to be fixed and static to avoid suffering the effects of inequality when finding a job.

Obligation to Be Free

As networking seems too advantageous, it may also be disadvantageous especially to people who like enjoying being free and flexible while working. Sarah, one of Lee’s respondents says that she had to quit networking jobs after seven years of job security even after having a secure job at BBC and opted to become a freelance producer. He backed up her action by the claim that it is difficult to get promotion and that it is only by moving out that one gets one. Another one Emma, argues that it gets difficult to balance networking and home-life as a young mother. I agree with the fact that everyone needs the obligation to be free and quitting networking culture may work. However, it does not necessarily mean that being a freelancer will come with free time. Freelancers often work day in day out to make up for their lives because their salaries entirely depend on them, not a particular company.  As Lee noted, successful networking demands an individual to work beyond their formal work time because they need to keep the networks going and strong.

To sum up, maintaining contacts is a crucial determinant of success in the television industry. As David Lee conceives, networking is vital for media practitioners when it comes to knowing about work as transparency is not guaranteed. It also helps in sharing ideas thus enabling creative work in cultural industries. Some important points to note are cultural capital is important to navigate through the industries as they provide an individual with communicative and cognitive skills to sustain a network. Also, networks are more established through weak ties as opposed to strong ties. However, even though Lee argues the importance of networks, I also added that commitment and determination also are key players in succeeding in the industry. I tend to conceive that even if one gets a job through networking, if their services are of low quality and the employer finds them not good, then the person cannot make it in the industry. Nonetheless, networking is important but it goes hand in hand with quality, commitment, and determination. On top of this, my argument is that networks have not replaced the cultural and creative diversity because quality work is also key to getting finding work. Thus, the British independent television industry ought to not only consider networks when looking for work, but also consider their quality, determination, and commitment as a way of maintaining creativity in the industry.


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