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Working in the Age of Flexibility: The “Crisis of Work” and the Meaning of Volunteering
Unformatted Document Text:  1 Title: Working in the Age of Flexibility: The “Crisis of Work” and the Meaning of Volunteering for Arts Festivals 1 Authors: Ann Vogel, Iain Lang Abstract: That “crisis of work” theories have inadequately interrogated such forms of work as volunteering and neglected the growth in political attention paid to their economic relevance is contrasted by studies that aim to tease out the value of and purpose behind volunteering’s labor, its cultural connotation, and the study of its social-attainment effects. In this study we look at the "crisis of work" account by Sennett and use volunteer data to examine some of his assumptions about labor in the new cultural economy. Rather than assuming with Gorz and others that we move beyond a workplace-based society, it seems the case that alternative forms of creative work, that are both individually and collectively enhancing, move into the zone of work. Whether they change the subjective meanings of volunteering and the meaning of work as labor is a matter for investigation. Keywords: art worlds, employment, festival, flexibility, organizations, volunteering, work Total Word Count: 5650 When it comes to the bottom line, volunteering is work. i It is of interest to business and polity actors because it solves organizational resource and legitimacy problems. From the perspective of the firm it is labor without remuneration, yet it offers benefits to the volunteering worker. Volunteering at the workplace—as a type of apprenticeship or informed by corporate social responsibility—is not considered exploitation; where it is not work for a ‘higher’ cause it appears intelligible as individual sacrifice that is offset against an anticipated future pay-off. For government, volunteer labor creates economic and social activity where there might 1 We gratefully acknowledge financial contribution towards the research project from the ESRC (Grant 000-22-1056 and the contribution toward data collection by the project’s research fellow Amy Singer. Demographic and other data about our study will form part of our conference presentation but are not presented here.

Authors: Vogel, Ann. and Lang, Iain.
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background image
1
Title:
Working in the Age of Flexibility: The “Crisis of Work” and the
Meaning of Volunteering for Arts Festivals
1

Authors:
Ann Vogel, Iain Lang

Abstract:
That “crisis of work” theories have inadequately interrogated such forms of work as
volunteering and neglected the growth in political attention paid to their economic
relevance is contrasted by studies that aim to tease out the value of and purpose
behind volunteering’s labor, its cultural connotation, and the study of its social-
attainment effects. In this study we look at the "crisis of work" account by Sennett and
use volunteer data to examine some of his assumptions about labor in the new cultural
economy. Rather than assuming with Gorz and others that we move beyond a
workplace-based society, it seems the case that alternative forms of creative work,
that are both individually and collectively enhancing, move into the zone of work.
Whether they change the subjective meanings of volunteering and the meaning of
work as labor is a matter for investigation.


Keywords: art worlds, employment, festival, flexibility, organizations, volunteering,
work


Total Word Count:
5650





When it comes to the bottom line, volunteering is work.
i
It is of interest to business
and polity actors because it solves organizational resource and legitimacy problems.
From the perspective of the firm it is labor without remuneration, yet it offers benefits
to the volunteering worker. Volunteering at the workplace—as a type of
apprenticeship or informed by corporate social responsibility—is not considered
exploitation; where it is not work for a ‘higher’ cause it appears intelligible as
individual sacrifice that is offset against an anticipated future pay-off. For
government, volunteer labor creates economic and social activity where there might
1
We gratefully acknowledge financial contribution towards the research project from the ESRC (Grant
000-22-1056 and the contribution toward data collection by the project’s research fellow Amy Singer.
Demographic and other data about our study will form part of our conference presentation but are not
presented here.


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