Explaining labour market emergence: the case of early music performance in the UK

Wilson, Nicholas Charles (2007) Explaining labour market emergence: the case of early music performance in the UK. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, uk.bl.ethos.438909.


The primary purpose of this thesis is to provide a causal explanation of the emergence of the UK early music labour market. The labour market for early music performers was held to have appeared in the 1970s, when the early music movement established itself as a major cultural force in the UK. It is argued that current labour market theory has been hampered in its ability to explain this phenomenon because i) it has generally taken the view that labour markets “just exist”, and ii) because existing accounts are too often founded on conflationary theorising. The only way to offer a practically adequate causal explanation of this emergent phenomenon is to adopt an approach that can account for the transformational and stratified nature of social reality. Critical realism is introduced as the philosophical “underlabourer” for this research project, with Archer's (1995) morphogenetic method representing its methodological complement. Following an immanent critique of the labour market literature, I present a re-conceptualisation of the labour market and its emergence, drawing on a critique of the entrepreneurship literature and the process of qualification. This frames the empirical research of the emergent early music labour market, involving both intensive and extensive research. The outcome of the research takes the form of an analytical historical account. The temporal and relational emergence of the UK early music labour market is shown to depend upon a range of key causal configurations (including the presence/absence of funding and training; enterprising capabilities; incubation opportunities; and re-qualification). Two underlying causal mechanisms (the tendency towards transformation and the tendency towards standardisation) are highlighted. It is argued that the retroduction of these mechanisms represents a significant contribution to knowledge with respect to our understanding of labour markets, markets in general, and the process of entrepreneurship.

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