September 3, 2012 Hard Hats

August 17, 2012 The Fifth State of Freelance

What do those images have in common?       At the top, one of the masterpieces of modern Italian art, “The fourth state” from Pelizza da Volpedo (1901) and beneath it, a contemporary theatre piece with the evocative title of “The fifth state” (2011). The “Fourth State” portrays the proletarian class, those whose only…

August 8, 2012 Green Ethics and Cheap Work

It’s been a while. Instead of writing for nowaytomakealiving, I’ve been doing fieldwork for a research project called ‘Green Collar work’, investigating the values and motivations for those working in eco-businesses, with a particular interest in environmental consultants and those selling eco-products. It’s been fascinating. I’ve met a shaman, a former banker and a guitarist,…

July 4, 2012 La Dance des Dos Bleus: Pasting Publicity Posters in the Paris Metro

June 30, 2012 Industrial Heritage and the Value of Working-Class Memory

In 2011, I was helping one of my sociology students get started on an essay.  She wanted to write, she said, “something on coalmining communities”. I suggested she narrow the topic, since coal mining was, until relatively recently, a widespread industry in the UK. She responded by suggesting that she could look at “somewhere up…

May 24, 2012 Coordination and Timing in Roofing Work

At a recent photographic exhibition on the theme of ‘Movement’ (in Limoges, April 2012), I was struck by this series of four images taken by Guy Bayles. The images capture the embodied competence, coordination and sense of timing of the roofers as one throws a tile to another. The coordination of the two roofers is…

May 17, 2012 You’re Screwed

There’s a lot of construction work gone into the high-tech sport venues that are now littering the country. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that matter. These screws are some of the ‘missing masses’, as mundane and as important as can be (Latour, 1992). (source: cyclingweekly.co.uk via Ewen Speed) On your hands and knees: your mate…

May 11, 2012 The Cost Of Bleeping

Since reading Ewen Speed’s piece about working contracts in the NHS, I’ve been thinking more about the experience of health care work. I’ve just read a fascinating and perplexing tale of the contingencies of work in healthcare. The first time I saw a pager, in 1994, I though it was a pretty clever device. You…

May 1, 2012 Ever Get The Feeling You’re Being ‘TUPE’d’?

The 2012 Health and Social Care Act (HSC) marks the de-regulation of primary health care in England. Much of the critical response to the legislation has been concerned with the implications for patients: what will the reforms mean for the broad political commitment to providing free universal healthcare? The prognosis for the NHS is not…

April 17, 2012 Don’t Be A Mobber

Having a job is one thing, something to be grateful for. Having a job that grants you ‘dignity at work’ is something better. In the UK, a longstanding Unite the Union campaign for dignity stresses freedom from bullying as making for a decent workplace and happy workers. An obvious example of bullying is the bad…