The unexplored dimensions of work

Marie-Pierre Gibert (Université Lumière Lyon 2-EVS)
Guillaume Dumont (Universidad Autonoma de Madrid/Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1)
Jens Kjaerulff
Start time:
23 July, 2016 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This panel is an invitation to investigate work as a multidimensional human activity with a focus on the rapidly growing but relatively unexplored dimensions referred to as "reputational", "relational", "free", and/or "informational" work, and their implication on the everyday life of the workers.

Long abstract:

As outlined by Godelier (1980), or more recently by Spittler (2008) or Kjaerulff (2015), whilst work is central to people's lives, anthropology has been relatively inattentive to the subject per se, hence calling for the further development of a much needed anthropology of work. For the last two decades, a wave of interdisciplinary scholarship has focused on the transformation of work into what Foster (2007) calls the "new economy." At the core of these transformations, and particularly in the labor markets of the so-called "creative economy" ranging from art and fashion to sport (Dumont 2015), are aspects such as visibility, reputation and/or networking, which are capitalized and described as essential assets to secure and maintain jobs, hence often exceeding the "classical" economic dimension of work. Consequently, work has been undertaking multiple changes hardly reflected by professional labels commonly assigned to working activities. However, we argue that this multilayered nature might be at stake in other working contexts beyond creative professions, albeit at different degrees. Therefore we engage with work as a pluridimensional activity, and invite panelists to investigate the multiple dimensions of work. This panel focuses on the rapidly growing but relatively unexplored dimensions of work sometimes referred to as "reputational" (Zafirau 2008), "relational" (Baym 2015), "free" (Terranova 2000), "informational" (Menger 2009) among others. We therefore welcome theoretically informed ethnographic contributions that overcome professional labels to engage with the constitutive dimensions of work as well as with their practical implications on the everyday life of the workers.