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'Work hard, play hard': Fantasies of nihilism and hedonism between work and consumption

Hoedemaekers, C (2016) ''Work hard, play hard': Fantasies of nihilism and hedonism between work and consumption.' Ephemera : Theory and Politics in Organization, 16 (3). 61 - 94. ISSN 2052-1499

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This paper aims to interrogate a specific space of transgression that opens up in identity work that spans the life worlds of work and consumption, which can be seen in cultural representations and advertisements that deliberately present themselves as vulgar, sleazy, racist or sexist (or a combination). I argue that this transgressive space is constructed in opposition to the idealized images of work and consumption that shape subjectivities. I will first explore notions of work and consumption, as well as the increasing overlap between work and life. Drawing on Lacanian theory, I then argue that these seemingly rebellious counter-responses can be seen as minor transgressions that do not question but rather support an underlying fantasy of self-actualisation. Based on a reading of an empirical vignette of a specific magazine, I argue that the trangressive gesture in consuming shock media derives its jouissance from a temporary negation of the ego ideal of self-realisation that underlies contemporary modes of being at work and in consumption. The transgressive gesture in consuming the imagery of shock media amounts to the positing of an alternate ego ideal, which takes the shape of the cynical hipster for whom the notion of others? estimation of them is anathema. Work identities are here met with a nihilist indifference to organizational ?committed? selfhood and careerism, while ?authentic? consumer identities are interrupted by an obscene preoccupation with sleaze, hedonism and sarcastic denunciation.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: consumption, cynicism, disidentification, identity, transgression, work
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD58.7 Organizational behavior, change and effectiveness. Corporate culture
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2016 16:51
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2018 22:15

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