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Title: Beyond the Symbolic: A Relational Approach to Dirty Work through a Study of Refuse Collectors and Street Cleaners
Authors: Hughes, Jason R. A.
Simpson, Ruth
Slutskaya, Natasha
Simpson, Alex
Hughes, Kahryn
First Published: 7-Sep-2016
Publisher: SAGE Publications (UK and US) for British Sociological Association
Citation: Work, Employment and Society, 2017, 31(1), pp. 106-122
Abstract: Drawing on a relational approach and based on an ethnographic study of street cleaners and refuse collectors, we redress a tendency towards an over-emphasis on the discursive by exploring the co-constitution of the material and symbolic dynamics of dirt. We show how esteem-enhancing strategies that draw on the symbolic can be both supported and undermined by the physicality of dirt, and how relations of power are rooted in subordinating material conditions. Through employing Hardy and Thomas’s (2015) taxonomy of objects, practice, bodies and space, we develop a fuller understanding of how the symbolic and material are fundamentally entwined within dirty work, and suggest that a neglect of the latter might foster a false optimism regarding worker experiences.
DOI Link: 10.1177/0950017016658438
ISSN: 0950-0170
eISSN: 1469-8722
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © the authors, 2016. Licensee: SAGE. Reprints and permissions: Deposited on acceptance with reference to the publisher’s archiving policy available on the SHERPA/RoMEO website. The file attached to this record is distributed under the Creative Commons “Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives” licence, further details of which can be found via the following link:
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Sociology

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