I’m now 8 weeks into my new job, so its time I made time to write a blog entry and evaluate where my head is at regarding this new state of affairs. I’ve been nominally working part-time for 4 years (it is a slight misnomer, as I have been doing a PhD and doing some part-time work in addition at university at that time, so full-time hours were not unusual and I’ve worked flat out pretty much), so the transition to full-time hours has been a little jarring. I’m struggling to say I’m enjoying the job, but then I struggle to say I have enjoyed any job; its work after all, done to bring the money in, not to dance around like a demented camel or to build ones social life upon in lieu of having a life outside your occupation. I’m finding some aspects hard, and some aspects surprising, and some aspects beneath me: all in all, like any other job I have done. Sometimes, I’ll come home feeling like the sentiments of this song:
But then I remind myself not to be a whining little maggot, and I’m not doing something paying minimum wage while being viewed as a dreg of society. Doesn’t shake the feeling that I’m always going to be dragging my tired carcass to a job I’ll never attend with a smile on my face though. This is perhaps my condition, so I’m getting used to it.
I am however in thrall to the wonderful unfolding power structures that you uncover when you begin a new job. Sitting in Foucault-inspired wonder at the futility of it all is probably not the best use of my time, but this is something I always do; either try and trace the power structures, look for the dominant personalities inspired by Weber, or analyse the place and the structures in terms of biopower and biopolitics. This is the appropriate means of analysis for the current situation, no doubt. Weird relationships between colleagues and departments are fixed by the conditioning of people by the structures in which they work. People that should be senior are expected to do very odd things, while management and administration rule everything through the application of practices, meetings, feedback and continual disruption which renders any attempt at alternative practices futile. Its really interesting and cool. My vision of these things also either marks me out as incredibly perceptive (doubtful) or engaged in a semi-detached manner. I’m going with the latter as I’m still scanning the vacancies sections of other places of work… In the meantime I’ll continue to ironically enjoy the processes of subjectification I’m observing (ironic as I’m as subject to them as anyone) while I do what needs to be done and prey for that lottery win to come in before I lose my mind one day.
One thing that is grinding my gears though is the pure neo-liberalist ideology that permeates both the institution and what the institution produces. The latter is in a most implicit manner, as in there is no discussion of the underlying problems with the assumptions being made by subscribing to the base and heavily criticised economic orthodoxy of the last 30 years. There is an acceptance that things are this way, can be no other way, implicit in the kinds of work done and the manner and content of discussions within the organisation. This is symbolically represented in the use of terminology that is sprayed liberally when discussing subjects and themes of work. “Synergies” is used in an directly neo-liberal way all the time; an assumption that co-ordination and co-operation based on profit is instantly preferential, regardless of any human costs in such a move, which even a cursory glance at the topic in a subjectivist stance would reveal to be problematic. Reminds me a great deal of Mark Fisher’s excellent Capitalist Realism, in that here is a place where there is no alternative and to suggest problems with orthodoxy would – it seems on observation rather than any experience of threats to my safety or future – not be received in a spirit of debate and intellectual curiosity.
Indeed, the absence of the subjective in general is a huge feature, as positivism and objectivity rule supreme. Maybe as an inherently subjectivist phenomenologist I should be asking what am I doing in such a place of work? Good question, but I’ll give it a few more months before deciding whether the question needs an answer based on action rather than introspective self-pity.