Emanuela Naclerio

Playing among passion and insecurity. A qualitative study of work in the Italian performing arts

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The present research aims to contribute to the current debate on cultural workers’ experiences of labour by investigating the case of theatre actors in the Italian performing arts sector. Considering passion to be a fundamental driver of artistic and cultural work and precarisation processes as embedded in contemporary working environments, this study focuses on the interplay of precariousness and entrepreneurship in shaping workers’ experiences. Using a qualitative methodology based on 40 interviews with actors and actresses based in Milan, this research accounts for the ways in which theatre actors construct their professional biographies. Pointing at the hybrid and heterogeneous character of creative workers paths, where internal and external diversification are combined with self- entrepreneurial projects and family revenues, the paper considers how research participants manage to stay afloat in a highly uncertain context and, at the same time, maintain their passionate desire of professional realisation. The research presents an empirical qualitative analysis that, on the one hand, enriches previous studies’ reflection on theatre artists and work in the Italian context and, on the other hand, contributes to understanding the multilayered work of sense’s construction done in and through contemporary work


  • cultural work
  • entrepreneurship
  • passion
  • precariousness
  • performing arts


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