Research reflections roundtable:
Work, class and gender ‘Work and Exploitation’
Wednesday 25th of April, 2018, 1.30pm-3.45pm
City, University of London Northampton Square Campus, College Building, St Johns Street, Room AG03
Hosted by the City, University of London Department of Sociology
1.30pm-2.00pm: Networking lunch
3.10pm-3.30pm: Thoughts from discussants & Group debate
3.30pm-3.45pm: Closing remarks
Professor Julia O’Connell Davidson, Professor in Social Research, University of Bristol and Professor Bridget Anderson, Professor of Migration, Mobilities and Citizenship, University of Bristol.
Dr Vanessa Gash (Senior Lecturer in Sociology, City, University of London)
Rima Saini (PhD Quantitative Sociology, City, University of London)
Jessica Simpson (PhD Sociology, City, University of London)
Laura Shand (PhD Health and Social Care, University of Hull)
Yvonne Ehrstein (PhD Sociology, City, University of London)
This paper will discuss the phenomenon of ‘ethnic capital’ and co-ethnic exploitation amongst second generation British South Asian professionals. It will focus on the concept of the ‘ethnic work ethic’ as an ethnic resource – both a tangible strategy that has enabled ethnic minority communities in the UK to fast-track their mobility, and a symbolic group attribute associated with hard work, dignity, and success. It is a concept which has endured beyond the ‘curry houses and corner shops’, and still governs the practices and beliefs of many second generation professionals, notably those who have rejected mainstream professional companies and established their own ethnic businesses. The paper will problematise the concept of the ethnic work ethic on two fronts: firstly, the role of this concept / discourse in legitimising self-exploitation and exploitation of community members; and secondly, the efficacy as well as desirability of these strategies amongst younger, second generation professionals looking to thrive beyond the ethnic enclave.
Jessica’s paper will discuss some of the exploitative practices carried out within UK strip clubs and the impact this has on erotic dancers as a result of their ‘self-employed’ status. The talk will also include a discussion of the ongoing difficulties dancers face when attempting to seek recourse of any kind due to the stigmatised nature of their work.
Laura Shand’s research considers current labour market precarity- the prevalence and increasing use of non-standard or casualised contracts (fixed term, zero hours, etc.)- within UK Higher Education and how this intersects with gendered experience in academia. As well as considering whether the Early Career Academic today is a modern ‘portfolio worker’ or is in fact subject to ‘flexploitation’, the research also considers both the commonalities and variations in how different genders experience the work place. For example, is precarity exacerbating gendered bias in the competitive search for more stable academic work- a process detrimental to female academics- or does it in fact foster a form of solidarity and understanding between Early Career colleagues in a period of great uncertainty for HE? Cathexis and men’s emotional attachment to work is also another facet that is explored in this work. The research itself is being conducted through combined qualitative methodologies, firstly a combination of 20 in-depth interviews with current ECAs and 5 with senior academics reflecting upon their ECA experience and secondly ‘online focus group’ message board to allow ECAs to discuss, compare and reflect upon their collective experience. Laura is currently undertaking field work and analysis at this point in time.
Yvonne’s PhD project explores lived experiences and constructions of maternal femininities in online environments. By analysing the British parenting website Mumsnet.com both as a representation of contemporary parenting culture and as the largest UK parenting community, her research investigates cultural constructions of work-family reconciliations and how these are navigated on a subjective level.