Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Work! What Is it Good for?

Thanks to all those who were able to make it to the 'Reworking Work' Lunchtime Seminar today. Tim Strangleman (SSPSSR) started by outlining the purpose of the Seminar, namely to hear about the range of research with a focus on 'work' that was already happening across the University, but also to kick start a 'work network'.

He spoke a little about his own work, which focuses on ideas of identity, representation and culture, and encompasses the sociology and historiography of work. He has recently worked on the Park Royal Brewery archive, where Guinness was brewed. It contained a rich visual record of the life of the plant, as well as its construction and destruction.

David Hornsby (SECL) spoke of his interest in how work is a factor in modulating our language: for example, we don't expect a coal miner and a banker to have the same accent, vocabulary or syntax. Patricia Lewis (KBS) talked about gender and entrepreneurship. Currently 75% of entrepreneurs are male, and a lot of the language of business reflects this, 'penetrating virgin territory' being an extreme example.

Joachim Stoeber (Psychology) outlined the relatively under-researched question of perfectionism and work. Whilst some work has been done on the negative connotations of this - such as stress - little had been done on the positive - such as efficiency. Finally Dawn Lyon (SSPSSR) finished by explaining her BA-funded project on craft, workmanship and labour, particularly in relation to the processing of fish. Her project had looked at how a trade is learnt and conveyed, tools handled and knowledge transmitted. In addition she had done research on collective identity and memory (in relation to ship building in Sheppey), and on the visual representation of work (in the refurbishment of the Medway Campus).

I know UCAS days, Union meetings and the myriad other draws on academic time might have prevented you from coming, and I'd like to invite all those with a research interest in work to get in touch to be a part of a 'work' network across the University. Such a network will act as a focus for future discussion, debate and collaboration.

In the meantime there's time to look forward to the next Lunchtime Seminar, to be held on 11 May, which will look at 'Violent and Non-violent Protest.' Do let me know if you'd like to come along.

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