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Animal selves and meaningful work:. The roles of identity and interactive practices in the construction of meaningfulness at work . Research Programme. Research home : Sociology of work and occupations

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animal selves and meaningful work

Animal selves and meaningful work:

The roles of identity and interactive practices in the construction of meaningfulness at work

research programme
Research Programme
  • Research home: Sociology of work and occupations
  • Guiding research programme: Understanding how the content and structure of work and occupations bridges workers’ sense of self with their experiences of work
    • Making sense of work and non-work in greedy occupations
    • Coping with customer incivility in low skill service work
    • Nonstandard work and identity in professional service firms
    • Interactive practices and the construction of meaningfulness in human-animal work
  • Practical implications of research programme: How can managers change the structure and content of work to improve the outcomes for employees?
research questions
Research Questions
  • How do interactive practices shape the construction of meaningfulness at work?
  • How are the interactive practices that workers engage in influenced by their sense of self and work role?
research model
Research Model

Animal worker identity

Interactive practices

Experienced meaningfulness of work

Animal worker’s role/work context

Experienced emotions

research context
Research Context
  • Animal work is an extreme case that is useful for theory building
    • Animal workers tend to have high experienced meaningfulness at work, despite dirty nature, low pay, and low job security
    • Few constraints on interactions with animals because they occupy a boundary role between the world of objects and the world of humans
relevant literatures
Relevant Literatures
  • Sociology of work
  • Meaningfulness of work
  • Identity
  • Emotions
  • Human-animal interactions
  • Anthropomorphism
proposed methodology
Proposed Methodology
  • Interpretive qualitative methodology
  • Ethnographic observations and interviews
  • Multiple research sites selected through theoretical sampling based on role of animal worker in relation to animals
    • Working for animals (veterinarians and technicians, shelter workers, daycare workers)
    • Working on animals (animal experimentalists, stockpeople)
    • Working with animals (animal trainers, jockeys/equestrians)
research contributions
Research Contributions
  • Showing how meaningfulness is actively created by workers rather than being a property of the work itself (identity matching, interactive practices)
  • Describing how interactive practices (i.e. anthropomorphism) which are framed as negative by society can have positive implications for workers in certain contexts
  • Clarifying how emotions relate to experienced meaningfulness (interactive practices may enhance/buffer both positive and negative emotions and more positive emotions do not necessarily lead to more meaningful work).