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Making life work: How is life shaped by work?

(23 November 2018)

Karel Musilek, Department of Sociology, presents the next talk in the John Snow College Seminar Series on Thursday, 29 November at 6pm in The Igloo, John Snow College. Karel's lecture critiques the language of work-life balance and will seek to stimulate a discussion on what life is, what it should be, and what ethical ideals of living we can draw on in order to resist increasing eclipse of life by work. All are welcome.

In our times, the relationship between work and life is understood mostly in the language of work-life balance. This perspective permeates scholarly, corporate and popular discourse. Plethora of self-help advice exists on how to 'balance' work and life and achieve happiness. Commitment to employees' work-life balance is a staple feature of big employers' websites. However attractive and prominent, this lecture argues that the work-life balance angle loses important features of the dynamic relationship between work and life. Most importantly, it underplays the question of how work actually influences, reshapes and moulds life according to the demands of production. The lecture will briefly discuss historical shifts in the dynamics between work and life and outline contemporary critical accounts. Drawing on ethnographic study of 'coliving' - a form of cohabitation for young entrepreneurs and professionals - it illustrates how life is redesigned, rather than balanced, in relation to work and what are the costs of submerging life (almost) fully in the logic of work. In place of conclusion, the lecture will seek to stimulate a discussion on what life is, what it should be, and what ethical ideals of living we can draw on in order to resist increasing eclipse of life by work.

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Please liaise with the designated contact for your department or college. For further guidance, email dialogue@durham.ac.uk

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