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Deriving pleasure and meaning from one’s job is especially potent in the cultural industries, where workers routinely sacrifice monetary rewards, stability, and tidier…
Deriving pleasure and meaning from one’s job is especially potent in the cultural industries, where workers routinely sacrifice monetary rewards, stability, and tidier careers for the nonmonetary benefits of self-expression, autonomy, and contribution to the greater good. Cultural labor markets are consequently characterized by the continual churning of its workforce; the lure of “cool” employment attracts an oversupply of aspirants while precariousness and routinized work lead to short careers. This article draws on qualitative data to further conceptualize the appeal and limits of nonmonetary rewards over time. Why do workers stay in precarious “cool” jobs? More specifically, how do workers stay committed to their jobs and perform the requisite deep acting for their roles? Through qualitative research on two sets of workers – music industry personnel and craft cocktail bartenders – this article examines patterns in these workers’ “experiential careers.” We identify three strategies cultural workers use to re-enchant their work lives: (1) deep engagement, (2) boundary work, and (3) changing jobs. In doing so, we show how the experiential careers of cultural workers resemble more of a cycle of enchantment than a linear path to exiting the field.
The Chicago School of Sociology heralded a new age: that of the rise and establishment of sociology as an academic discipline in the US. It also spurred on an intellectual…
The Chicago School of Sociology heralded a new age: that of the rise and establishment of sociology as an academic discipline in the US. It also spurred on an intellectual tradition in ethnography that focuses on a wide array of methodological tools and empirical data with a focus on the specificity of place that continues to live on in contemporary urban sociology. Yet, its traditions have also been extensively criticized. Burawoy (2000) is one preeminent scholar, who has denounced the Chicago School as being parochial, ahistorical, and decontextualized from the national and international processes that shape cities. Instead, he calls for a move toward “global ethnography,” one that focuses on “global processes, connections, and imaginations” (Burawoy et al., 2000). Increasingly, US urban sociologists study research sites that are located outside the US and pay attention to how global actors and/or transnational connections influence US dynamics. Given this trend, what, if any lessons can global and urban sociologists take away from the Chicago School? In this chapter, I highlight three such lessons: (1) the global is central to city life; (2) rooting our work in the specificities of place helps extend and build theory; and (3) the School still provides useful conceptual and methodological tools to study the global. In doing so, I argue that scholars should recognize the plurality of approaches to global ethnography and how each approach can further our understanding of how the global shapes social life.
In this chapter, I analyze how the intersection of geographic and social locations shapes ethnographic relationships in urban areas. While early urban ethnographers were…
In this chapter, I analyze how the intersection of geographic and social locations shapes ethnographic relationships in urban areas. While early urban ethnographers were acutely aware of the importance of geographic location, I argue that researchers’ social locations were ignored, obscuring how their bodies and social identities lead to different forms of knowledge about the metropolis. I use data from a two-year ethnographic research project conducted in Caracas, Venezuela as well as interviews conducted with women qualitative researchers to consider gendered dynamics of fieldwork experiences and data collection. Using a framework of embodied ethnography, which posits that all ethnographic knowledge is shaped by researchers’ bodies, I argue that men and women confront similar but distinct challenges while conducting fieldwork, and discuss what this means for data collection in cities. Specifically, I focus on how social control mechanisms, the gendered meanings attached to researchers’ bodies, and geographic barriers in urban areas can facilitate and restrict fieldwork. Critiquing hegemonic standards within ethnography that encourage researchers to leave their bodies out of their tales of the field, I advocate for the incorporation of gendered research experiences in our ethnographic writing with the aim of producing more complete narratives, but also to better prepare future ethnographers for fieldwork.