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The Temporalities of Working Lives: Orientations to Time in Career Portraits and in the London Banking Industry

Koessl, Gerald. 2013. The Temporalities of Working Lives: Orientations to Time in Career Portraits and in the London Banking Industry. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

By elaborating a Bourdieusian methodological framework, this thesis explores the temporalities of working lives in two different empirical settings. First, in portraits of people’s careers featured in contemporary newspapers, and second, for two different kinds of workers associated with the banking industry in London. These two workforces consist of a group of people in their early and mid-careers who are involved in the ‘core’ activities of banks and a group of cleaning workers in the subcontracted ‘periphery’ of the banking industry. In regard to these empirical settings this thesis explores the interconnectedness between economic structures and individual working life temporalities. It does so by considering in particular two pervasive processes, namely individualisation and precarisation and it shows that these processes both operate at the level of time and narrative.

The analysis of career portraits shows that such portraits of (usually unknown) people’s career in newspapers have a role model function and they serve as a technique of individualisation as they convey an individualised understanding of working lives, an individualisation which is in alignment with the neoliberal values of self-determination and individual autonomy. While career portraits enact de-temporalised and de-socialised notions of individual agency, my analysis of the two workforces in banking provide evidence for the socially and economically grounded nature of individual agency, in particular with regard to people’s work biographies and their working futures. It is shown that although individualised understandings of work biography were an important feature among the group of people in their early and mid-careers in banking, the precariousness of the working conditions of cleaners force many of these workers to ‘stabilise the present’ whilst future plans and ambitions remain out of individual reach. However, in recent years, many of the cleaning workers have joined trade unions aiming to collectively improve their future.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Keywords:

work; time; future; individualisation; precariousness; individual agency; social class; narrative

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology

Date:

2013

Item ID:

10153

Date Deposited:

12 May 2014 10:26

Last Modified:

10 Jul 2018 03:59

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/10153

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