Once You Are In You Might Need to Get Out: Adaptation and Adaptability in Volatile Labor Markets—the Case of Musical Actors
The labor market for musical actors is very challenging for several reasons. On the one hand, it is difficult to acquire a position: qualification requirements are high, competition is fierce and reputation is difficult to build up. On the other hand, once in it is often necessary to get out: once being in, market demand for roles with a stage age above 45 drops dramatically and it becomes increasingly hard to stay healthy due to the threefold exposure to bodily strains of acting, dancing and singing. This labor market thus presents potentially interesting situations, in which the meaning of the concept resilience—in the sense of valuing preservation—can change fundamentally. While at the beginning of a career, the main challenge is often to adapt to market requirements, in the second half of a career it becomes increasingly important to become adaptable to a broader spectrum of opportunities, including exit scenarios. The paper generates empirically grounded ideal-typical accounts of the meaning of adaptation and adaptability for musical actors with a focus on the actors’ networking strategies, their professional identities, and the corresponding ways of perceiving and creating spaces.
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