Mindful Living, Mindful Working? New Understandings of the Role of Work in Post-Growth Society

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 6:15 PM
Room: 411
Oral Presentation
Friedericke HARDERING , Sociology with specialty in Sociology of Work, Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Heather HOFMEISTER , Goethe-University, Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
In discourses about post-industrial, post-growth societies (Paech 2012), emerging questions of the "good life" and appropriate, sustainable consumption have invited a general inquiry about new lifestyles. Two archetypes of the new lifestyles include “Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability” (LOHAS) and “Lifestyles of Voluntary Simplicity” (LOVOS). The research about these lifestyles focuses particularly on the consumption behaviors of these lifestyle groups, but questions of how these lifestyles and philosophies affect the understanding of work remain understudied.  Because work and consumption are closely linked, we expect that those involved with these new lifestyle models may also have a notably different orientation to work.

We investigate the understanding of work held and articulated by members of these new lifestyle groups. We reconstruct the understanding of work using the responses from four narrative interviews, two from representatives of the LOHAS lifestyle and two from the LOVOS, collected in Germany in 2012 and 2013. These four cases are a selection from a larger sample of 21 job-changers who described for us their employment biographies. The central analytical categories of the research are health, sustainability, work-life balance, and simplicity. Our results show that the understanding of work as expressed by these new lifestyle representatives deviate strongly from common understandings of “normal work” or “organizational careers.”  The respondents report that it’s very important that their work mirrors their broader values on the dimensions of self-sufficiency, deciding for themselves rather than being driven by outside forces and demands, health-consciousness, and meaningfulness. 

Paech, Niko (2012): Befreiung von Überfluss. Auf dem Weg in die Postwachstumsökonomie. München.