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Organizational Mediation of Project-Based Labor Markets: Talent Agencies and the Careers of Screenwriters

William T. Bielby and Denise D. Bielby
American Sociological Review
Vol. 64, No. 1 (Feb., 1999), pp. 64-85
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2657278
Page Count: 22
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Organizational Mediation of Project-Based Labor Markets: Talent Agencies and the Careers of Screenwriters
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Abstract

We examine how organizations that mediate "life-of-project" employment segment the labor market in a culture industry. Using longitudinal data on writers for television and feature films, we examine trends in the extent to which type of agency representation affects writers' employment and earnings. Elite or "core" agencies are those that transcend their role as market brokers between the suppliers and purchasers of writing services by participating actively in the production process. Writers who are represented by such agencies are substantially more likely to find employment, and they earn considerably more than equally accomplished writers with noncore agency representation. We discuss the implications of these findings for contingent employment of professionalized employees in other highly institutionalized industrial sectors.

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