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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

AM24-PP14 QC

Parallel Papers Session 1
Friday 5 July 1.45pm-3.00 pm, EEST
Paper Code: PP14

CE Credits Available

Looking for sources of innovation, transformation and new positive futures in the creative industries.

Presenter: Thea Mikkelsen
Moderator: Larry Hirschhorn


My field of work and research are the creative industries where we experience a growing sense of polarizations and insecurity, as we globally have seen exposed by the Hollywood strikes in the summer 2023. The discontents in our present civilizations are present among the cultural creative people in the creative industries where 51% are considering leaving the industries (Wetransfer rapport, 2021).

The situation today where we see a growth in the creative demand and at the same time a disillusion within the industries call for rethinking of the role of the cultural creative person.

Since the creative workforce not only takes up specific roles in our societies but also as the design professor Guy Julier has described (Julier 2017, 2021) has “a symbolic role in the wider neoliberal economy” where “the creative industries symbolically represented a kind of work that functions at the leading edge of the transformation of the self within the framework of neoliberalism” (Julier, 2021) what happens in the creative industries can be seen as symbolic in relation to (western?) society as a whole.

To try to understand the psychological as well as social implications for the individual members of the creative industries captured by this conflict today, I have engaged in a ph.d. research project at NIODA, Australia. My aim with the project is to describe new models for identifications with the roles of a cultural creative professional and to develop new platforms for performativity for the cultural creative member of the creative industries.

It is in relation to this work that I began to think about how I can get access to new and innovative sources of knowledge that can help me be this agent for change in my researcher/consultant role.

This paper will present and explore how a combination of the psycho-social research method focused on “intense experiences” in the researcher described by Lita Crociani-Windland (2009) and the collaborative aspect of action research for transformation (Bradbury, 2022) can help us get past the defended researcher-subject (Hollway & Jefferson, 2012) and be able to listen to the voice of the other in the group as well as other voices in us (Kristeva, 1991) and through this get access to new sources of innovation.

The theoretical position is based on Philip Boxers concept of defences against innovation and his presentation of why we need a third epoch (Boxer, 2017) to understand what is really going on in the disruptive systems today. The analysis will also draw on the literary scholar Shoshana Felmanns lacanian feminist readings of Freud (Felman, 1991). Felmans reading strategy that allow for us to listen to what is insisting to be heard but cannot be said within the dominating narratives will be presented as a source for inspiration to how we can read innovative meaning out of conflicting narratives.

Biographical Summary

Thea Mikkelsen, independent consultant and coach with a focus on the creative industry in Denmark, Norway and Europe as well as creativity in other knowledge based companies. BSC, BA, MSc & MA from the University of Copenhagen. Candidate in the Danish Psychoanalytic Society since 2011 and former board member of ISPSO (2020-23). Living in Piedmont, Italy with my husband and our daughters.