Telling tales

Work, narrative and identity in a market age

The global financial crisis of the early twenty-first century focused attention on the processes that sustain the excesses of corporate capitalism. This book gives an account of the role played by literature in human subjectivity and identity under the working conditions of late-capitalism as these affect the well-being of specialist, middle-class and public sector professionals. It explores how the organisation struggles to reconcile the flexibility and responsiveness characteristic of modern business with the unity and stability needed for a coherent image. Next, an examination of business survivor manuals addressing the needs of employees failing to cope with time-pressure and the required transformation into perfect new economy workers discovers their use of appealing narrative principles. The book covers the theoretical foundations on which assumptions about the subjectivity and identity of the professional middle class have been made, including the ideological pressures and contradictions. It also investigates satisfying work more fully through analysis of popular practical instruction books on cookery and horticulture. The book considers how organic activities involving slow time, such as horticulture, cookery and the craft of writing about them, give a strong cultural message concerning the current organisation of time, work satisfaction and relationships. In particular, it deals with how the human feels attuned to balance, continuity and interconnectedness through the cyclical patterns and regulated rhythms of slower evolutionary change evident in natural systems. The nature of the autobiographic text is also considered in the book.

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