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Time reclaimed: temporality and the experience of meaningful work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Catherine Bailey, Adrian Madden

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-18
Number of pages16
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Volume31
Issue number1
Early online date9 Oct 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017

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Abstract

The importance of meaningful work has been identified in scholarly writings across a range of disciplines. However, empirical studies remain sparse and the potential relevance of the concept of temporality, hitherto somewhat neglected even in wider sociological studies of organizations, has not been considered in terms of the light that it can shed on the experience of work as meaningful. These two disparate bodies of thought are brought together to generate new accounts of work meaningfulness through the lens of temporality. Findings from a qualitative study of workers in three occupations with ostensibly distinct temporal landscapes are reported. All jobs had the potential to be both meaningful and meaningless; meaningfulness arose episodically through work experiences that were shared, autonomous and temporally complex. Schutz’s notion of the ‘vivid present’ emerged as relevant to understanding how work is rendered meaningful within an individual’s personal and social system of relevances.

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