Careers and Contingencies: Constructing Careers in the Music and Building Industries

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In this paper we explore physical work in two workplace cultures: the orchestra and the building industry. Work in each of these settings is marked by a disciplined physicality requiring work which is ‘hands on’ and understood in the context of a particular workplace culture. There are, however, distinct differences; whereas building subcontractors might identify as being ‘on the tools’, musicians are more likely to describe themselves as ‘being’ the tools.
Our research shows that by bringing the two ethnographic cases together we can start to tease out insights from each case that illuminate features of the other. In this way our account does not seek analytical closure but rather seeks to open up a range of issues that can be made clearer through a dialogue between the two divergent activities. The result of this work is to create a better understanding of the impact of objectification on musicians and subcontractors. Implications include the potential for better organisational structures that can positively shape participants’ professional and creative identities.


Keywords: Workplace Culture, Orchestra, Building Industry, Objectification, Physicality of Work
Stream: Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies, Humanities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Careers and Contingencies


Dawn Bennett

Research Academic, Humanities Faculty, Curtin University of Technology
Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Dawn Bennett is a musician and academic whose research focus is the cutural industries and the creative workforce. She is an academic with the Humanities Faculty at Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Western Australia.

Dr. Philip Moore

Senior Lecturer, School of Media, Society and Culture, Curtin University of Technology
Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Philip Moore is a social anthropologist who studies work and sport. He is senior lecturer in anthropology in the school of media, society and culture at Curtin University of Technology.

Ref: I08P0164