Sociability work, defined as the work involved in putting on community and charity events, provides one example of the intersections among gender and work. Yet sociologists have generally not included sociability work in their examinations of work. Based on ethnographic research in a breast cancer awareness organization, I analyze women’s sociability work to demonstrate how dimensions of power such as gender shape understandings of what counts and does not count as work. By applying the concept of sociability work to a contemporary group of volunteer workers in the U.S., I show first that this form of working is alive and well to day. I also highlight how sociability work complicates dominant conceptual understandings of work and consider the consequences of sociability work’s relative in visibility. I argue that excluding sociability work from the study of work shuts off critical discussion of its potential uses and misuses in shaping public policy and access to the public sphere.
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