26th May 2010 In the Orbit of the Tomato

After my father died, I dis­cov­ered a film he had directed in 1938 for the his­tor­i­cally famous GPO (Gen­eral Post Office) film unit. It was called The Islanders, and in it, to my amaze­ment, was a short sec­tion about Guernsey and the once-renowned Guernsey tomato. The film shows how toma­toes were grown in ster­ilised soil…

19th May 2010 The Offices of State

In these pho­tos taken by Mar­tin Argles for the Guardian, we see Gor­don Brown and his team prepar­ing to leave Down­ing Street. These pho­tos inter­est me for what they show about the spaces and expe­ri­ence of work. In the first pho­to­graph, there are three mem­bers of staff hud­dled round one phone.

18th May 2010 The Port of Felixstowe

A few weeks ago, I went in search of fish at Felixs­towe (on the Suf­folk coast, UK), took a wrong turn and found myself try­ing to drive into the Port. In the few min­utes it took to ask for direc­tions at the secu­rity gate (where the men were very friendly and help­ful), sev­eral lor­ries came…

17th May 2010 Living and Working on Sheppey: Past, Present and Future

2010 marks fifty years since the clo­sure of the Naval Dock­yard on the Isle of Shep­pey in Kent. It was quite a blow to the island. There was the imme­di­ate loss of an ‘occu­pa­tional com­mu­nity’ where the sin­gle large employer that had dom­i­nated the local econ­omy and brought peo­ple together with a shared sense of…

12th May 2010 Trust, Honesty and the Politician’s CV

Noway­tomakealiv­ing is col­lec­tively intrigued by today’s appoint­ment of Iain Dun­can Smith as Work and Pen­sions Sec­re­tary in the bodge-job coali­tion which now runs Britain. For­merly leader of the Con­ser­v­a­tive party, and some­time nov­el­ist (his book, The Devil’s Tune is cur­rently 212,689 on Ama­zon best­seller list), the ‘quiet man’ is a provoca­tive choice for the concerned…

4th May 2010 Branded Workers

For Boltan­ski and Chi­a­pello (2007), capitalism’s exis­tence and evo­lu­tion requires that its work­force under­stand and accede to its demands. For a cap­i­tal­ist sys­tem to oper­ate there must be a ‘spirit’ that achieves the incul­ca­tion of norms (e.g. a norm of a work ethic). They argue that the norms through which the work­force are incor­po­rated change…