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Do you see what I see? Going beyond chronology by exploring images of age at work. Katrina Pritchard and Rebecca Whiting Paper presented at BPS conference, January 2013

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  • Aesthetic Labour:Broader interest in ‘the aesthetics’ of work plus building on the notion of ‘emotional labour’ to capture idea that employers sought to gain organizational benefit from the deployment of particular bodies: “workers with corporeal capacities and attributes that favourably appeal to the senses of the customers and which are then organizationally mobilized, developed and commodified through training, management and regulation to produce an embodied style of service.” P388 Warhurst and Nickson 2009).Beyond ‘impression management’Research interest in both ‘labour’ and ‘labouring’ (by individual employees or particular groups (studies of models for example). Majority of research within the service industry – hotels and catering – benefits to the organization from managing the staff/customer interaction to the smallest detail. But also research on Models (this is interesting from our perspective because many of the images we will go on to discuss are posed by models – so we are trying to disentangle different layers of aesthetics labour here.As with other discussions of diversity – age is overlooked:Particular focus on gender given the predominance of female employment in the service work sector and previous discussions re gendering of “soft skills” associated with these roles Wissinger (2012) looks at the management of ‘race’ within modelling and the impact of attempts to ‘erase’ ethnicity within the modelling industry.Witz et al ”gendered and sexualised dimensions” to aesthetic labour2009 GWO special issue on aesthetic labour – looked at issues of masculinityHall, R., & van den Broek, D. (2012) – argue that Aesthetic Labour is segmented, such that organizations may adopt different approaches based on their understandings of what is ‘needed’ for the local market – its is a means of branding. THUS very different from our approach as we are looking at web based data which tends to try to ‘speak’ to generic understandings to maximise the chance of getting the attention of an audience (NEED A REF from something on comms studies to support this?)
  • Has visual research been used elsewhere in the study of aesthetic labour? It appears that studies to date have largely been survey/interview or a combination within a case studySomething on the ‘layers’ of analysis here:Analysis of the visual image in term of representations of work- Aesthetic labour of the models and the selling of ‘stock’ images – images taken by professional photographers, models release their rights, photos are ‘sold’ via agencies who act as brokers with the media (taking fee of around 40%)Think we need to ensure we are not seem as trivialising conceptual underpinnings of aesthetic labourBroader aesthetics of the internet more broadly?http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/p27_work_of_others“Fairdealing” : research and instructionCan show but not distribute copies
  • Textual context Article headline: Age discrimination 'rooted' in society, Government finds. Old age officially begins when people reach the age of 54 and youth ends when people turn 32, a Government survey has found.Photo caption (visible): According to the DWP’s research, one in three people have experienced some form of prejudice in the last year because of their age.Photo tag (usually embedded): teamRhetorical codes Physical (physical attributes incl. what is shown, attractiveness, stature, bodily condition): 4 figures are shown around a table in an office setting; all are attractive, neatly dressed and groomed. The women have long glossy hair. The men are clean shaven. The younger workers are slim; the older man a little sturdier in build.Dress (clothing, accessories, hairstyles): All 4 are informally and similarly attired in shirts but whereas the younger workers are wearing coloured shirts, the older man’s is white (implying a more conventional dress code). Otherwise their similarity and style of dress suggests a lack of hierarchy and/or a ‘creative’ work setting rather than conventional ‘suited and booted’ workplace. The younger workers all have dark hair, the older man has grey hair.Spatial (physical artefacts, space, props, furniture, hierarchy, devices that reflect eg mirrors and PC screens, symbols, location settings, associations): A very light and airy modern office setting, lots of glass, white walls and light furniture. It is a contemporary office with a potted plant to match. There are the usual office props (folders and files) but in the background. In the foreground is a large table with a plan and a folder on it. All 4 figures are touching the plan (to different extents) but suggesting some joint enterprise. The figures make a pyramid shape with the highest point of the pyramid and the right hand slop represented by the older male figure; the left hand slope is represented by the heads of the 3 younger workers. The older male figure is in a dominant position through the physical space that he occupies. Interpersonal (body language, movement, pose, expressions, gaze, eye contact, gesture, inter-relationship with others): The older man’s physical dominance is reinforced by his forward posture, his sturdier physique, the placement of both his hands on the table and his head on gaze/stare at the young woman who is seated (at whom the others are also looking). No one is looking at the plan. The three younger workers are smiling; the older man has a more serious expression (implying more responsibility / seniority). The seated woman is therefore the visual focus of the attention of the other figures (also suggesting importance). The 4 are physically quite close to each other, implying closeness of relationship/enterprise?Other What subject positions are created? Younger worker; older worker. The female worker; the male worker/boss. What is absent (that you might expect to see)? No older woman. What is different from other depictions of same ‘object / subject’? Although it is illustrating an article about age stereotypes and discrimination, it shows a multi-age team working in apparent harmony.What is the same as in other depictions of same ‘object / subject’? The older worker is represented by an older man.How does the image work to persuade (ie how does it produce its truth claims, scientific certainty or the natural way of things etc)? It reifies the idea of age and gender differences and the notion that different ages and genders represent (aspects of) diversity within a team. It (possibly) reinforces the idea that older age and seniority are aligned. Does the image dissent from a dominant discourse? It dissents from the discourse of conflict or competition between different generations.Does it contain any internal contradictions? NoDoes it display complexity within a discourse? There is some complexity with regard to the extent to which a hierarchy is represented within the team. Image 6:Does he look a bit like Robert Kilroy Silk?not sure how you have categorised the woman in the Blue shirt? I have her as older than the two sitting down but not as okd as the man? younger gen are equal (same colour shirts though different tones, sat close together, hands similar placement.) - older woman is not equal with older man (off to side), she is also the only one not touching the plan.have ‘seen’ the second woman in the photo (the one in the blue shirt) as being of different ages is precisely because of the need for women to look younger, in terms of colouring hair, minimising wrinkles, staying slim, fashionably dressed etc so. So when viewed at a glance or a distance older women look much like their younger counterparts for longer than men look like theirs. (Until they both become beige!)Probably this is very obvious but this ‘agelessness’ in this context only just occurred to me.
  • BPS Presentation

    1. 1. Do you see what I see? Going beyond chronology by Katrina Pritchard and exploring images of Rebecca Whiting age at work Department of Organizational Psychology Birkbeck University of London BPS DOP Conference January 2013 Research part-funded by Our research blog: Richard Benjamin Trust http://ageatwork.wordpress.com (Early Career Award 1103)© 2013 Katrina Pritchard and Rebecca Whiting. All rights reserved.
    2. 2. Do you see what I see? Age at Work research project Aesthetic labour & media representations Looking at images of agehttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    3. 3. Age at Work project  E-research project to map the language of age at work using English language Web 2.0 media  Inclusive approach:  „older‟ and „younger‟  Employment and unemployment  Initial 12 month project funded by the Richard Benjamin Trust; ongoing research partially supported by BEI school granthttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    4. 4. What’s interesting?  Age is an important concept and category within employment, retirement and education/training policies  „Young‟ and „old‟ are constructed as mutually exclusive in the labour market but there are similarities in the means (e.g. regulatory) and measures (e.g. chronological age) of exclusion  The failure of the diversity approach to deliver equality has led to a call to re-think dimensions of difference such as age from a critical perspective (Zanoni et al., 2010)http://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    5. 5. Discursive approach  Discourses are made up of language use through  talk and text  other semiotic activity e.g. visual images  Discourse = standardised ways of referring to / constituting a certain kind of phenomena  Discourse analysis = method of identifying discourses and the processes of their constructionhttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    6. 6. What this means for age  Challenge assumptions about „age‟; even the most „natural‟ of objects can be shown to be a social product  Age and concepts like „younger‟ and „older‟ are historically and culturally relative, dependent on social, economic and political arrangements  Knowledge of age is sustained by social processes i.e. the everyday interactions between people as they engage in meaning-making activities  Knowledge of age we create is bound up with the actions we take since it invites particular ways of behaving and beinghttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    7. 7. What is e-research? “research not just about the Internet but also on it and through it and constituted within it” (Hine, 2005, p. 205)http://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    8. 8. What is e-research?  Using digital tools to:  Locate and access research resources  Discover, access, integrate and analyse data  Facilitate sharing and collaborationhttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    9. 9. What is e-research?  Digitallymediated interactions with research participants at varying degrees of distance  Complex relationships between collection and dissemination due to overlapping „digital footprints‟  Blurred boundaries between notions of „primary‟ and „secondary‟ data though variants are broadly defined by different data typeshttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    10. 10. Relevance? E-research offers the potential to:  unpack and explore what we might previously have labelled „context‟ or ignored  look at interactions between organizations and/or the ways in which organizations engage with others via the internet  examine the ways in which individuals (including employees, customers etc.) engage with different organizations  “media spectacle” (Tan, 2011): follow stories as they „unfold‟ across various different mediahttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    11. 11. Practicalities  150 days of alerts („sweeps‟ of Web 2.0 data) from English language sources  Around 6 relevant items from google/nexis per day giving approximately 900 sources which include text, images, video items.  Around 50 relevant tweets from twilert per day giving approximately 7750 tweets  Additional data via following, signing up to newsletters, following links etc. from the alerts  Text and images cut and paste into NVivohttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    12. 12. @ageingnewshttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    13. 13. Do you see what I see? Age at Work research project Aesthetic labour & media representations Looking at images of agehttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    14. 14. Aesthetic labour  Builds on concept of emotional labour  Importance of being “„good looking‟ or simply having the „right look‟” Warhurst & Nickson (2009, p. 386) within “an image-driven economy” (Hancock and Tyler, 2007)  Witz et al (2003). “The kinds of embodied dispositions that acquire an exchange value are not equally distributed socially but fractured by class, gender, age and racialised positions or locations” (p41)  Commodification and utilisation by organizations and institutionshttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    15. 15. Stock images  “cultural text[s]“ (Milestone and Meyer, 2012)  Library pictures sold via commercial agencies for use in print and digital media  Both production and consumption relevant within a conceptual framework of aesthetic labour:  Aesthetic labour of the models in producing the images  Aesthetic representation of different images of (un)employment is consumedhttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    16. 16. Analysing Visual Images  Davison(2010): Analysis of portraits  Physical attributes, dress, physical artefacts, and interpersonal representations  Rose (2012):  subject positions, absences, contradictions, similarities/differences with other images, persuasiveness, complexities  Sample: Identified images within the data set to produce a sample of 120, further iterations distilled 15 images for detailed analysis, of which 4 are discussed here  Purchased rights to these photographshttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    17. 17. Photo elicitation  “themeaning of images is not fixed, but dynamic and open to continual interpretation as part of an ongoing circuit of communication” (Bell and Davison, 2012)  Photo-elicitation originated in the 1950s, basis in psychology and anthropology  May be used in group or individual contexts, the photo becomes a „presence‟ within the research setting  Danger of assuming this offers more „rounded‟ or complete interaction, rather offers a different type of prompt from the more traditional verbalhttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    18. 18. Do you see what I see? Age at Work research project Aesthetic labour & media representations Looking at images of agehttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    19. 19. What are your impressions of these photos?  We would like to retain, display and share the comments you produce today on these photos for use in our research project including future academic conferences, seminars and publications.  You have a choice as to whether to share the comments you produce:  If you do not consent to your comments being reproduced (in electronic or print form) for educational and/or non commercial purposes then please do not hand in your picture at the end of this session.  If you hand in your comments at the end of the session you are consenting to these being reproduced (in electronic or print form) for educational and/or non commercial purposes.  You may withdraw your consent subsequently by emailing the authors and quoting your participant number.  The names of those who provide comments will not be recorded or identified.  Any questions? If you later have any questions or concerns about the use of these comments please email Katrina at any time (k.pritchard@bbk.ac.uk).http://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    20. 20. Copyright acknowledgements and details included inhttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com following slides
    21. 21. Downloaded from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9010770/Age-discrimination-rooted-in-society-Government-finds.h Original download: 22/1/12 ; screenshot: 6/6/12http://ageatwork.wordpress.com Picture credit: Johnny Greig / Alamy
    22. 22. Downloaded from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/90107 70/Age-discrimination-rooted-in-society- Government-finds.html Original download: 22/1/12 ; screenshot: 6/6/12 Picture credit: Johnny Greig / Alamyhttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    23. 23. Props Modern office, Plan, desk, seating Pose „pyramid‟, use of hand position re involvement and authority Dress Appearance Formulaic business casual, Women similar, Older man wears men dissimilar, trad‟l white shirt Downloaded from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9010770/Age-discrimination-rooted-in-society-Government-finds.html Original download: 22/1/12 ; screenshot: 6/6/12 Picture credit: Johnny Greig / Alamyhttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    24. 24. Downloaded from:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs/8821785/Record-fall-in-employed-over-65s-shows-businesses-rushed-to-retire-workers.htmlOriginal download: 16/10/11 ; screenshot: 6/6/12Picture credit: Roger Bamber / Alamyhttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    25. 25. Downloaded from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs/8821785/Record-fall-in-employed-over-65s-shows-businesses-rushed-to-retire-workers.html Original download: 16/10/11 ; screenshot: 6/6/12 Picture credit: Roger Bamber / Alamyhttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    26. 26. Props papers, glasses Pose mirrored, separate, close Dress Appearance similar, beige, similar in every respect, little gender coding stereotyped Downloaded from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs/8821785/Record-fall-in-employed-over-65s-shows-businesses-rushed-to-retire-workers.html Original download: 16/10/11 ; screenshot: 6/6/12 Picture credit: Roger Bamber / Alamyhttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    27. 27. Downloaded from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ article-2089457/There-ARE-job- vacancies-London-young-Brits- right-work-ethic-says-Boris.html Original download: 28/1/12; Screenshot: 28/12/12 Picture credit: Jenny Matthews / Alamyhttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    28. 28. Downloaded from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2089457/There-ARE-job- vacancies-London-young-Brits-right-work-ethic-says-Boris.html Original download: 28/1/12; Screenshot: 28/12/12 Picture credit: Jenny Matthews / Alamyhttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    29. 29. Job centre sign Props (assumed destination) Facing away Pose from camera Appearance Face hidden, but hair well kept, clean Dress Hoody (more of an anorak?) Downloaded from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2089457/There-ARE-job-vacancies-London-young-Brits-right-work-ethic-says- Boris.html Original download: 28/1/12; Screenshot: 28/12/12 Picture credit: Jenny Matthews / Alamyhttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    30. 30. Downloaded from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/pensions/9000720/Rise-of-the-Wearies-more-pensioners-working-in-their-70s.html Original download: 21/1/12; Screenshot: 20/9/12 Picture credit: Real image/Alamyhttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    31. 31. Downloaded from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinan ce/pensions/9000720/Rise-of-the-Wearies-more- pensioners-working-in-their-70s.html Original download: 21/1/12; Screenshot: 20/9/12 Picture credit: Real image/Alamyhttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    32. 32. Props Appears a domestic not work setting, calculator, bills Pose Hand over mouth, confronting pile of bills Dress Appearance Casual, dated No make up, hair not overly tidy (reinforcing concern with finances) Downloaded from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/pensions/9000720/Rise-of-the-Wearies-more-pensioners-working-in-their-70s.html Original download: 21/1/12; Screenshot: 20/9/12 Picture credit: Real image/Alamyhttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    33. 33. Do you see what I see? Age at Work research project Aesthetic labour & media representations Looking at images of agehttp://ageatwork.wordpress.com
    34. 34. http://ageatwork.wordpress.com

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