culture + work

Workshop – 28 October 2022 – Amsterdam

Call for papers

‘Work has no intrinsic meaning’ C. Wright Mills (1951: 215) famously wrote. That does not make work meaningless but only that it needs to acquire meaning through cultural work. The professional activities we carry out, the way we are compensated for it, the identity we derive from it or what eventually gives us access to all of this, is strongly determined by cultural dynamics. Hence, whether it is on the classical problem of alienation through labour or on more contemporary issues such as employee diversity, none of it can be fully discussed without taking the role of culture seriously.

When it comes down to investigating the relationship between work and culture, the debates have been rather fragmented. This primarily because the multiple aspects of culture have usually been disconnected from each other. While some institutional scholars have been preoccupied with studying the role of organizational culture, others have mobilized the notion of culture to talk about unequal distribution of labour market changes (e.g. ethnicity, class, gender or race) or the implementation and content of antidiscrimination law in the work place. In other cases, the notion of culture entered the study of work by focusing on the way identities are constructed and regulated. Or, culture was also put under the spotlight by those who are studying the field of cultural production and the different forms of practices it engenders such as gatekeeping or aesthetic labour. And the list continues.

Despite the value of each of these research lines for better understanding the nature of work, the fragmented way in which culture has been treated makes it difficult to fully grasp the overall cultural reality of work. This workshop aims to take a first step in remediating this situation by inviting scholars from different fields to join in a discussion, based on their own work, on how we should frame the relationship between culture and work.

We plan several sessions on different work + culture related topics and encourage researchers to join us and present new (work-in-progress) studies that allows for further exploration and open debate.

We welcome contributions in the following areas:

  • Formation of work identities
  • Workplace culture, diversity policies, and antidiscrimination law
  • Cultural resources/capitals and inequality in the labour market
  • The cultural and political meaning(s) of work
  • Cultural practices at work (gatekeeping, matching, aesthetic labour)

Set up

The goal of the workshop is to arrive at in-depth debates and exchange of interdisciplinary views, over a series of topical sessions. Therefore, besides regular presentations (15 minutes) we want to encourage all participants to also share a paper (this can be a first draft or preliminary research note) with their fellow presenters a couple of weeks before the start of workshop. We are convinced this approach will lead to a more qualitative discussion, hopefully directly enriching the research we are all currently working on. If the exchange during the workshop proves exceptionally fruitful, (a selection of) our work might be bundled and published collectively (in a special issue or an edited volume). We encourage researcher in all stages of their careers to apply (from PhD’s to full professors) and want to be a platform to present work-in-progress and preliminary research.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

Submission abstracts: 1 June 2022 (around 200 words). Notification of acceptance by 1 July 2022.

Submission (preliminary) discussion papers: 30 September 2022

Submit by email: culture.work2022@gmail.com

Date: 28 October 2022 (09.00 – 17.00) (with coffee/thee and lunch)

Costs: the workshop is free of charge, we provide coffee/thee, lunch and drinks but do not cover travel expenses or hotel accommodation.

Location: Amsterdam, Roeterseiland, Nieuwe Achtergracht 166, The Netherlands

Organizers: Anja Eleveld, Kobe De Keere, Roza Meuleman

Institutions: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Radboud Universiteit

Contact: anja.eleveld@vu.nl, k.dekeere@uva.nl, roza.meuleman@ru.nl

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