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Critical social theory and the will to happiness: a study of anti-work subjectivities

Frayne, David 2011. Critical social theory and the will to happiness: a study of anti-work subjectivities. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Abstract

It can be argued that we live in a ‘work-centred’ society, since not only has society witnessed a massive quantitative expansion of paid-work, but many also accept that, at this present historical moment, the tasks, relationships and time-structures of work occupy a central place in people’s sense of well-being. Critical social theorists have advanced an alternative perspective and undertaken a critique of work, responding to the interlinked social problems of mass unemployment, inequality, environmental degradation, and low well-being, by promoting an anti-productivist politics which calls for a decentralisation of work in everyday life. Theorists such as André Gorz have suggested that such proposals resonate with a cultural disenchantment with work, as well as growing desire for non-material goods such as autonomy, free-time, good-health and conviviality. Such claims, however, have rarely been explored on an empirical level. One of the central questions that remain unanswered is whether and how it is actually possible for people to live with significantly lower levels of work. In response to this gap in the literature, the present study undertakes a qualitative investigation into the lives of a diverse sample of people, each of whom has chosen to work less or to give up working altogether. In-depth interviews explore the work experiences and moral priorities that informed the participant’s lifestyle changes. Also explores are the trials of working less, including how participants coped with less money, and how they coped with the stigmas attached to working less, in the midst of a society that continues to attach moral significance to having a job. Are the participants deviants, malingerers, and failures, or might society learn something positive and inspiring from their actions and choices?

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2017 02:51
URI: http://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/18497

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