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Accepted Paper:

Celebrating work in Bulgaria: how IT companies became "factories for events"  


Rossitsa Bolgurova (Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski)

Paper short abstract:

Work celebrations in Bulgaria are part of the experience economy and of conspicuous consumption. How they draw on popular culture and use music is explored in this paper.

Paper long abstract:

Work celebrations, like office parties and company days, are a genre of festivity that dates back to the seasonal holidays marking the end of work cycles. At the same time they are a reflection of the contemporary social and cultural context, from the values and orientations that are reaffirmed, to the music that is played.

In Bulgaria nowadays, the pathos of the heroic socialist worker celebrations is replaced by "employer branding" events, in particular in the booming IT industry. Weekend long music festivals and glitzy Hollywood-inspired parties are organised to engage and attract both current and potential employees. Both organisations and individuals use these singular and excessive events for self promotion, in the new mode of conspicuous consumption of events fostered by social media.

Based on in-depth interviews and participant observation, this paper explores the process of engineering of such events. Special focus is places on the "curatorial" role of the HR and employee branding executives who put together cultural assemblages drawing mostly, but also very selectively, on popular culture with pop-folk and chalga being a special point of contention.

Panel P169
Affection of Sounds and Politics in South-Eastern Europe: Challenges and Perspectives