Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Work aspirations, intellectual disability and 'cruelling out' the mark in the job club

Dearing, Kim 2022. Work aspirations, intellectual disability and 'cruelling out' the mark in the job club. Sociological Review 70 (3) , pp. 564-579. 10.1177/00380261211044619

[thumbnail of Dearing 2021 TSR ORCA  copy.pdf] PDF - Accepted Post-Print Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (249kB)


This article uses ethnographic data to explore the relationship between a job club facilitator and a job seeker with an intellectual disability, to illuminate the gulf between employment activation and the multifaceted everyday reality experienced through employment preparation activities, at a job club established for people with intellectual disabilities who are in receipt of social care. The focus of this article is the micro-interactions apparent within the job club that aligns with Goffman’s ‘cooling the mark’ framework, which is unpacked and extended. The strategies at play here refute the broader, individualised ‘welfare-to-work’ neoliberal rhetoric of employment being available to anyone who works hard enough to attain it. Instead, job seekers are reoriented to accept volunteering roles or dubious unpaid work which are presented as employment-like alternatives. Yet, Goffman’s concept is not static as he envisaged: it fluctuates. For, within this reorientation process, strategies are deployed onto individuals to ensure they are kept interested enough to both accept a lowered employment status, while simultaneously still encouraged to strive for paid work one day. As such, this article teases out the tension and paradox between the clusters of promises attached to work as ‘the good life’ together with everyday disabling experiences of cruel optimism by encouraging job seekers to accept non-normative forms of employment.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0038-0261
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 September 2021
Date of Acceptance: 13 September 2021
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 03:17

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics