By Natasha Slutskaya, Patricia Lewis, Heather Hopfl Ruth Simpson
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Additional resources for Dirty Work: Concepts and Identities
Ashforth and Kreiner (1999) make a similar point about dirty work and argue that workers in ‘dirty’ occupations find solidarity and camaraderie in their work. They say that against external definition, such workers consolidate their position by making selective comparisons with other jobs and by transforming the meaning of dirty in order to moderate the perception of the dirtiness of their jobs. All jobs which require performance skills carry similar demands and require similar responses. The audience (or client) cannot appreciate how much the actor suffers.
In simple terms, it is the very division of the actor into aspects of the role which are required in the service of performance and those which are not that denigrates the role, debases the actor and renders the possibility of performance merely partial. Via the disaggregation of the person in this way, the employee is not only rendered expendable – as a collection of mere attributes – but is also put into a position where aspects of the self which might be valued become regarded as potential agents of contamination to be excluded and feared.
However, one of his most powerful concepts which is much examined in sociological literature relates to his conceptualisation of response to command. He came to the conclusion that one of the characteristics of command is what he famously termed the ‘sting’ which attaches to the imposition of a command and which accumulates in the individual, causing resentment and a repressed fury against authority. According to Canetti, individuals seek to free themselves of the stings that are laid on them and so seek opportunities in which they can reverse the original situation in which the commands were set, that is to say, in which they can return the sting (Cooper, 1990; Linstead, 1997; Linstead and Chan, 1994).
Dirty Work: Concepts and Identities by Natasha Slutskaya, Patricia Lewis, Heather Hopfl Ruth Simpson