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Presented By: Institute for Social Research

The Trouble with Passion: How Searching for Fulfillment at Work Fosters Inequality

ISR Insights Speaker Series

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ISR Insights Speaker Series
The Trouble with Passion: How Searching for Fulfillment at Work Fosters Inequality
Thursday, February 24 at 12pm ET via Zoom

Speaker: Erin Cech, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Michigan; Faculty Associate, Population Studies Center

“Follow your passion” is a popular mantra for career decision-making in the United States. In this talk, Cech will discuss her research on this ubiquitous cultural narrative that she call the “passion principle.” The passion principle is rooted in tensions between postindustrial capitalism and cultural norms of self-expression and is compelling to college-educated career aspirants and workers because passion is presumed to motivate the hard work required for success while providing opportunities for meaning and self-expression. Although passion-seeking seems like a promising option for individuals hoping to avoid drudgery in their labor force participation, she argues that the passion principle has a dark side: it reinforces socio-economic disadvantages and occupational segregation among career aspirants and workers in the aggregate and helps reproduce an exploited, overworked white-collar labor force. These findings have implications for cultural notions of “good work” popular in higher education and the US workforce and raises broader questions about what it means when becoming a dedicated labor force participant feels like an act of self-fulfillment.

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February 24, 2022 (Thursday) 12:00pm
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