1st Edition

Making a Living, Making a Life Work, Meaning and Self-Identity

By Sara James Copyright 2018
    146 Pages
    by Routledge

    146 Pages
    by Routledge

    In a world in which individuals will undergo multiple career changes, is it possible any longer to conceive of a job as a meaningful vocation? Against the background of fragmentation and rationalisation of work, this book explores the significance and meaning of work in contemporary life, raising the question of whether people continue to feel motivated to dedicate their lives to their work, or must now look to other areas of life for meaning. Based on rich, in-depth interviews conducted with workers of different ages and across a broad range of occupations in the major city of Melbourne, Making a Living, Making a Life reveals that work continues to be a source of pride, passion and purpose, the author shedding light on the ways in which cultural narratives, collective meanings and structural factors influence people’s feelings about work. An engaging and empirically grounded examination of the meaning and centrality of work to people’s lives in today’s 'liquid' modern world, this book will appeal to sociologists with interests in cultural sociology, social theory, ethics, the sociology of work and questions of identity.

    1. Introduction: The Significance of Work in Liquid Modernity

    2. The Fate of the Work Ethic

    3. Work and Self-Identity: Vocation, Authenticity and Passion

    4. Seeking Sensation and Meaningful Work

    5. Conclusion

    Appendix 1: Research Methodology

    Appendix 2: List of Participants and their Occupations

    Appendix 3: Profiles of Research Participants



    Sara James is a Lecturer in the Department of Social Inquiry at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. She was born in the United Kingdom and grew up in Melbourne. Her main research interests are in the sociology of work and cultural sociology, with a particular focus on meaning and self-identity. Sara also undertakes research in higher education pedagogy, focusing on the first-year experience. She is co-author of Sociology in Today’s World (3rd edition, 2014), an introductory text for sociology students.