3rd December 2013 Métier

Laura Braun’s new col­lec­tion of pho­tographs of small busi­nesses in Lon­don and the peo­ple who run them, Métier, has just been pub­lished by Paper Tigers Books. There is a book launch tonight at The Pho­tog­ra­phers’ Gallery in Lon­don – all are wel­come! The pho­tographs in this col­lec­tion and the sto­ries that accom­pany them are each…

30th January 2012 Bata in Essex and the Decline of the Third England

Essex is a maligned county, present in pop­u­lar mythol­ogy as a home for trou­ble­some women – from Matthew Hop­kins’ 17th cen­tury witches, to the sex­u­ally provoca­tive but appar­ently stu­pid 1980s Essex Girls, and today’s primped women of The Only Way is Essex. When J. B. Priest­ley wrote Eng­lish Jour­ney he was exer­cised by some troublesome…

25th September 2011 How to Use ‘Mad Men’ to Think About Advertising

Towards the end of the first series of the Emmy-award win­ning US drama, Mad Men, set in the fic­tional world of the New York adver­tis­ing agency, Stir­ling Cooper, in the early 1960s, there is a scene which offers a seduc­tive vision of the work of adver­tis­ing prac­ti­tion­ers and their role in weav­ing com­mer­cial fables. The…

29th October 2010 Thirty Years on from ‘Women on the Line’: Researching Gender and Work, Panel Report from Work, Employment and Society Conference, Brighton, September 2010

The repub­li­ca­tion in 2009 of Miriam Glucksmann’s ethnog­ra­phy of fac­tory work, Women on the Line (orig­i­nally pub­lished in 1982 under the pseu­do­nym, Ruth Cavendish) was the start­ing point for a panel dis­cus­sion on research­ing gen­der and work at the Work, Employ­ment and Soci­ety Con­fer­ence, which took place in Brighton in Sep­tem­ber 2010. I approached Miriam…

20th August 2010 Conference report: IVSA Bologna 2010

The 2010 Inter­na­tional Visual Soci­ol­ogy Asso­ci­a­tion (IVSA) Con­fer­ence was held at the world’s old­est uni­ver­sity, Uni­ver­sità di Bologna, in Italy. Bologna la Rossa (named for its red roofs and his­tor­i­cally left­ist pol­i­tics) is an utterly beau­ti­ful city, with por­ti­cos along the streets enabling walk­ers to wan­der shel­tered from the sun­shine. This annual con­fer­ence is a…

1st June 2010 Work and Realism

One of the most effec­tive and real­is­tic depic­tions of man­ual work in cin­ema is found in a scene in the avant-garde film Pravda (1970) by Jean-Luc Godard (offi­cially by the Groupe Dziga Ver­tov), well-described in Monaco (1976). This is a short piece about the events in May 1968 in what was then Czecho­slo­va­kia. Whereas most…

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…

28th April 2010 What does The Working Lives of Londoners collection of photographs tell us about the working lives of Londoners?

The Work­ing Lives of Lon­don­ers is a series of pho­tographs by Har­riet Arm­strong on dis­play at City Hall (22 March to 7 May 2010) which shows Lon­don­ers ‘going about their daily rou­tine in the cap­i­tal’ (The Guardian). A selec­tion of images was pub­lished in The Guardian in March, but more can be seen on Harriet…

6th January 2010 Mesrine: the career of a killer

Dawn and I recently watched Mes­rine: Killer Instinct and Mes­rine: Pub­lic Enemy Num­ber 1, a semi-fictionalised account of the life of Jacques Mes­rine, France’s most famous bank rob­ber. Apart from a brief period work­ing in an architect’s prac­tice, Mes­rine (played by Vin­cent Cas­sel) made a liv­ing from ille­gal activ­i­ties. A pro­fes­sional crim­i­nal has to do…

2nd September 2009 The Wire

Watch it and love it. As a story about gangs, drugs, inequal­ity and social/institutional and leg­isla­tive fail­ure to pro­tect poor com­mu­ni­ties, The Wire is astound­ing telly. In por­tray­ing the inter­con­nec­tions between the struc­tures of power and the pow­er­less – and show­ing how these are not always embed­ded in for­mal insti­tu­tions – it comments