“It’s Going to Work Out”: Negotiating Anxiety and Passion in Studying Humanities and Social Sciences

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By Scarlett Stemler

“And what do you want to do with that?” This is the question humanities and social sciences students are continuously asked when they state their degree. As a student studying an Arts degree, majoring in sociology and anthropology, at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), I have experienced this question many times. I started out my university education in a Bachelor of Psychology, a hard degree to get into and one that holds a lot of prestige. But I found psychology to be cold, rigid and impersonal and I felt there was no space for my own voice. In contrast, I took elective subjects in sociology and anthropology and absolutely loved these from the start. Subjects such as ‘Rethinking the Social’ and ‘Understanding Cultural Experience’ totally captured my whole heart and mind. In each lecture, time would stop and I would be happily swept into this exciting, new world full of questions and open doors. After two years I went from semi-soft to soft, from psychology to arts.

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Join the fun! An ethnography of fun and subcultural entrepreneurship in the skateboarding scene of Puebla, Mexico

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By Kaj Dekker

Scene 1: Another sunny day at the Xonaca skate park in Puebla, Mexico. People are skateboarding, filming or having conversations while secretly sharing caguamones, a bottled liter of beer. A group of friends is sitting in the hot sun, enjoying their conversation as well as their beer. Suddenly, one of them challenges a friend. “I call a bet! If the next guy jumping down the stairs makes his trick, I buy you a new board. If he lands the trick, you buy me one, alright?” The friend agrees and they wait until someone approaches the stairs. In the meantime, cigarettes are shared, jokes are made and fun is had. After some time, a skateboarder starts checking out the set of stairs, clearly trying to visualize his trick. As he takes a few steps back to gain some speed for the jump, he accelerates. He approaches the stairs and jumps. In the middle of the jump he fails to get his position straight. As he lands he breaks his board, he sees the bunch of friends going wild. Seemingly out of nowhere a guy comes up to the skater and asks him if he would like to buy a new skateboard. The friends overhear this conversation and whistle to signal the salesman to come over. What does a shop-less salesman do at the skate park of Xonaca? The friends buy a skateboard from him, which he gets from the trunk of his car. They give the old deck to the skater who broke his board. In the end, one skateboarder broke his boards and two got a new one. How does this informal economy come about in a commerce-free setting as the Xonaca skate park?

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‘Just do it, and try to have fun while you’re at it’: Full-time working youth at a well-known retail shop in a busy train station

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By Lianne van Goethem

As many other students, I have a part-time job to be able to afford living on my own, buying groceries, and going to university. My job is at a well-known retail shop at a very busy train station, a place where a lot of people come by every day. Many of my colleagues are other students my age, around 20 years old, and working part-time. But, besides the older full-timers, there are also many colleagues my age who work there full-time and no longer go to school or college. These young full-timers grabbed my attention. I became interested in their experiences in their ‘working life’ at this young age, as well as their aspirations for the future. I could understand why they work full-time, because it earns them money and they can live off of that money. Yet to me it did not make much sense for young people not to study, because, in my view, young people can develop themselves fully through studying. However, in my research I found that young full-timers also learn from their everyday experiences and develop their own skills and sense of self-worth through their performances at the workplace. Continue reading

Playing at work – ‘This is not a friends’ club’: Pro-gamers’ negotiations of play and work

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By Diego Arguedas Ortiz

Abstract: Gaming is still seen as a hobby or a leisure activity by the average person out there, including many academics. But there is a massive global community of professional (pro-) gamers that has been disregarded by both the media, society and academia, with most research still focusing on recreational gaming. This paper aims to provide insight into the little-known world of pro-gaming. Specifically, it intends to shed light on the way pro-gamers create life strategies to negotiate ‘work-time’ and ‘play-time’ when gaming online, and how this relates to broader life and career paths within the expanding pro-gaming industry. The research for this paper resulted in two major discoveries: first, pro-gamers ‘label’ who they play with and, based on that, they are able to separate play from work; and second, gamers can commit to months or years of this career because the younger generations they are part of no longer follow the traditional career paths set by society. Continue reading

‘All or Nothing’: The ethics of commitment, discipline and perfection in dance education

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By Bo Nijenhuis

Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays were the happiest days of my life for about seven years. Those were the days I could go to the BBN dance academy and do the things I loved to do: dancing, singing and acting. My dream was to be the star in lots of musicals. We were told, if you just work hard enough, you can get there. So for seven years (most of my teen years) I worked on my dancing skills, my voice and my acting skills. I had to miss out on a lot of typical teenage-life things. I couldn’t go to high-school parties, because I had to go to dance classes. This also meant not having a lot of friends because I didn’t have much time to socialize after school. But it was a sacrifice I was willing to make for the sake of my future. To make money doing something I loved to do was the ultimate dream. Continue reading

‘They say we are here to learn’: Female interns’ strategies of success in politics

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By Maja Wadstein

When I started at the university three years ago I was already looking forward to graduate. The study in itself seemed interesting, but what really motivated me was the opportunity to pursue a successful career which an education could give me. Studying political sciences has led me to dream of working with social policies in the future. For me, success is to feel that I have accomplished these professional goals and that I am working at something meaningful that is contributing to society. However, with dreams and goals come doubts. What if I am not able to make my dreams come true? In fact, instead of feeling excited to graduate from university I now feel scared of not being able to succeed in my new working life. As I am about to start my career the pressure arises of making strategic decisions in order to be professionally successful, but will I be taken seriously? Or will I, as a young woman, see myself placed at the bottom of an adult male-dominated hierarchy at the political workplace? Could it be that while I am working on social issues like inequality I will experience it myself first-hand on the workplace? Continue reading

Being popular in every arena: How models strategically transfer capital over different fields

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By Kaj Dekker

Abstract: In this paper I analyze the glitter and glamour of the model lifestyle, and more specifically the occupation-as-identity of Dutch female young models, by drawing on Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus, field and capital. While probing into stereotypical images of models, I show how they use certain strategies to move through expectations in such a way as to suit their own interests. I argue that models are not only able to generate social, cultural and symbolic capital, but can also use this capital to gain success in other fields besides the field of modeling. Through interviews with four models who recently quit this capital-rich occupation, I show how they use their strategic agency to profile themselves as a model, deal with the stereotypes, interact with other models, cope with the high demands posed by the modeling agency, and finally make the decision to quit. Continue reading