Jennifer Robinson

PhD student, Associate Lecturer

Research Overview

Through sociological analysis of religion, my research focuses on the relationality between contemporary manifestations of religious and spiritual belief and how we approach the activity of work. Drawing on the ‘Problem of Work’ put forth by Peter Berger to result from the ‘ontological devaluation of the world of work’ (1964: 218), following the industrial revolution, this research explores how religious and spiritual beliefs have shaped, and continue to shape, the way in which we approach, conceive and derive meaning from activities of work. In particular, this thesis expands on the literature surrounding organisational responses to the problem of work since the 1960s, and the steady incorporation of spirituality as a means of motivating contemporary Selves so as to ‘bring life back to work’. Explored through the sociological concept Soft Capitalism (Thrift, 2005), my research seeks to critically evaluate this claim through the application of a number of philosophical insights of Hannah Arendt. In particular, attention is given to her distinction between activities of work and labour (1958), and the implications this distinction has in terms of the levels of responsibility and judgement within the contemporary Western European context.

In doing so, this research seeks to critically discuss such developments in relation to wider sociology of religion and organisation studies, not only contributing to such disciplines separately but developing discussion that encourages inter-disciplinary collaboration and debate.