Elephant in the room? Class and creative careers in British advertising agencies

Charlotte Louise Gilmore, Stephanie O'Donohoe, Barbara Townley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    55 Citations (Scopus)


    Advertising in Britain has traditionally been the preserve of a middle-class, public school and Oxbridge-educated workforce. Although this narrow recruitment base is recognized as problematic, the influence of social class on advertising careers remains largely unexplored. This article explores the career trajectories of British advertising creatives from different social class backgrounds and the forms of capital at their disposal. Drawing on life history interviews with creatives, we explore how they got started, got in and got on in advertising careers. In particular, we highlight how the `working-class' creatives struggled to overcome the economic, social and cultural barriers they face in entering the industry. We suggest, however, that once `in', the influence of their social class background was more subtle and less detrimental, due to the social capital they accumulated en route and the value of their distinctive brand of cultural capital.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1011-1039
    JournalHuman Relations
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009


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