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Passion and [Exploitation At Work]

AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
Researchers at Duke University have found that passion for one's work is viewed as legitimizing exploiting workers:
The researchers found that people consider it more legitimate to make passionate employees leave family to work on a weekend, work unpaid, and handle unrelated tasks that were not in the job description.

The team found passion exploitation consistently across eight studies with more than 2,400 total participants. The studies varied in design, in the participants (students, managers, random online samples) and in the kinds of jobs they considered.

In one study, participants who read that an artist was strongly passionate about his job said it was more legitimate for the boss to exploit the artist than those who read the artist wasn’t as passionate. This finding extended to asking for work far beyond the job description, including leaving a day at the park with family and cleaning the office bathroom.

In another study, participants rated it more legitimate to exploit workers in jobs more traditionally associated with passion, such as an artist or social worker, than in jobs not generally seen as a labor of love, such as a store clerk or bill collector.

While this can come across as "duh", it's good to see research pointing this out directly. Showing that passion can and is used against workers to force them to take on further work without appropriate compensation is the first step in pushing back. Furthermore, we how this mentality, when left unchecked, helps turn entire industries toxic - one need only look at the games industry to see evidence of this, with permanent crunch the norm across wide swaths of it.

Just because someone is passionate about their employment doesn't mean that it's free game to take advantage of them.

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Posts

  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    Yup. I've brought this up consistently in my career in healthcare. It's really fucked up but consistently framed as fighting for better working conditions and caring about patients are opposed to one another.

    Understaffed, can't take another patient - why don't you care about your patients?

    We do care, but have an obligation to the patients next week to not be burned out, injured or shut down for negligent care.

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  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    It's hard to know also what behaviors you should assume as a person on the other side of the equation. It's easy to be pygmalioned into a work centric life and beg for work when suddenly confronted with an employer push for work life balance.

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  • Edith_Bagot-DixEdith_Bagot-Dix Registered User regular
    I used to work in the video game industry (primarily as a developer at EA and Activision) from 2005-2010 and this definitely aligns with my view - "passion" was talked about constantly and it was all really all a smokescreen for the companies to scam free work out of people and excuse poor project planning (for example, "missing" the fact that a fixed date statutory holiday "just happened" to be on the same day as a major deliverable). I work at a hedge fund now and while it is, at times, just as busy, everyone is aware of what they signed up for and it's clear that the primary motivators from the top down are around money and profit. It may sound cynical or greedy, but I actually find it really refreshing to be in an environment with no bullshit.



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  • PhillisherePhillishere Registered User regular
    edited August 2
    Teachers and nurses have known this for decades. It was also a problem back when I was in journalism. Employer was a major international corporation, but the hiring editor literally did a little "You did not go into journalist to get rich!" bit when presenting the salary during the job interview. Higher education exploits "passion" ruthlessly in its adjunct workforce, who make up more than 70 percent of instructors now. Right now, I'm in public health, and it is a huge issue for retaining a workforce.

    There's a reason David Graeber focused so much on the exploitation of "passionate" workers with low pay in his Bullshit Jobs.

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  • DisruptedCapitalistDisruptedCapitalist rugged, weathered Registered User regular
    Same thing with Americans tendency to stigmatize laziness. "What? Complaining you have too much work? You're just not trying hard enough!"

  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud bear with us as we do some "rebranding" Registered User regular
    This is how all of academia functions. It would not function without this nonsense ideal. I am too exhausted to make a long post just right now but will later.

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  • PhillisherePhillishere Registered User regular
    One side effect of the exploitation of passion is that, as David Graeber points out, the low pay and long hours also grease the wheels for the upper middle and upper classes to end up in all the leadership roles in public service. If you are already rich, you can not only ignore the side effects of working poverty, but you can also focus on positions that pay little or nothing but build resumes and connections.

    It is an extension of how unpaid professional internships work.

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  • TehSpectreTehSpectre Registered User regular
    Same thing with Americans tendency to stigmatize laziness. "What? Complaining you have too much work? You're just not trying hard enough!"
    "You only got all the tasks asked of you done?

    Bob got all this extra stuff done, way to do the bare-minimum"

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  • FoefallerFoefaller Registered User regular
    This is how all of academia functions. It would not function without this nonsense ideal. I am too exhausted to make a long post just right now but will later.

    I'm pretty sure you could say that for pretty much all skilled labor, most educated positions, and many unskilled labor jobs.

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  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    TehSpectre wrote: »
    Same thing with Americans tendency to stigmatize laziness. "What? Complaining you have too much work? You're just not trying hard enough!"
    "You only got all the tasks asked of you done?

    Bob got all this extra stuff done, way to do the bare-minimum"

    Joke's on Bob he did a bunch of work for free

  • PhillisherePhillishere Registered User regular
    Foefaller wrote: »
    This is how all of academia functions. It would not function without this nonsense ideal. I am too exhausted to make a long post just right now but will later.

    I'm pretty sure you could say that for pretty much all skilled labor, most educated positions, and many unskilled labor jobs.

    Academia relies on burning out a string of poorly paid part-timers with sub-minimum wages, unreliable contract jobs that can vanish days before a class will start, and no benefits. That's with the added bonus that their career-path pretty much always incurs significant student loan debt and requires living in expensive urban areas.

    In a lot of cases, workers who get stuck on the adjunct path have much harder lives and lower take-home pay than someone working a minimum wage service industry job. It's a horrorshow of exploitation.

  • TryCatcherTryCatcher Registered User regular
    Another thing is extra hours. Right now where I live, Lima, nobody wants to pay that, so contract negotiation have to be with an overtime price up front aka Fuck You, Pay Me. Example of a call that I got:

    "Hello, we are interested on your CV and profile".
    "Hello, what are the work conditions?".
    "We work Monday to Saturday!".
    "Ok, in that case, I want [a 50% increase of my current salary] + same benefits".
    "....We'll be in touch".

    Yeah, fuck off.

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  • PolaritiePolaritie Sleepy Registered User regular
    Unionize everything.

    I am so glad I dodged the bullet on game dev (it got me into programming but I started reading about the industry in college).

    And let's not forget the evidence that a 40 hour work week is less productive than a shorter one either - there's reason to believe this is actually objectively bad for companies too.

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  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    TehSpectre wrote: »
    Same thing with Americans tendency to stigmatize laziness. "What? Complaining you have too much work? You're just not trying hard enough!"
    "You only got all the tasks asked of you done?

    Bob got all this extra stuff done, way to do the bare-minimum"

    Joke's on Bob he did a bunch of work for free

    The problem is that said extra work is what the people who control as lot of your career advancement want to see.

    It's the same issue that leads to the minimum wage. It's a race to the bottom as people are willing to be exploited to move ahead.

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  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    shryke wrote: »
    TehSpectre wrote: »
    Same thing with Americans tendency to stigmatize laziness. "What? Complaining you have too much work? You're just not trying hard enough!"
    "You only got all the tasks asked of you done?

    Bob got all this extra stuff done, way to do the bare-minimum"

    Joke's on Bob he did a bunch of work for free

    The problem is that said extra work is what the people who control as lot of your career advancement want to see.

    It's the same issue that leads to the minimum wage. It's a race to the bottom as people are willing to be exploited to move ahead.

    Assuming your job actually promotes internally, which it often doesnt meaningfully.

    For many of us the only incentive is to not get fired.

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  • PhillisherePhillishere Registered User regular
    edited August 2
    shryke wrote: »
    TehSpectre wrote: »
    Same thing with Americans tendency to stigmatize laziness. "What? Complaining you have too much work? You're just not trying hard enough!"
    "You only got all the tasks asked of you done?

    Bob got all this extra stuff done, way to do the bare-minimum"

    Joke's on Bob he did a bunch of work for free

    The problem is that said extra work is what the people who control as lot of your career advancement want to see.

    It's the same issue that leads to the minimum wage. It's a race to the bottom as people are willing to be exploited to move ahead.

    Assuming your job actually promotes internally, which it often doesnt meaningfully.

    For many of us the only incentive is to not get fired.

    My current job doesn't have internal promotions. For any open position, I need to apply as a new applicant and interview alongside outside candidates. Many won't take part in this, as the understanding is that if you weren't asked to apply then you are just asking for future awkwardness alongside your bosses and new colleague by going through the process.

    I'm not sure how common that is, but it isn't rare.

    Phillishere on
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  • Edith_Bagot-DixEdith_Bagot-Dix Registered User regular
    Foefaller wrote: »
    This is how all of academia functions. It would not function without this nonsense ideal. I am too exhausted to make a long post just right now but will later.

    I'm pretty sure you could say that for pretty much all skilled labor, most educated positions, and many unskilled labor jobs.

    Academia relies on burning out a string of poorly paid part-timers with sub-minimum wages, unreliable contract jobs that can vanish days before a class will start, and no benefits. That's with the added bonus that their career-path pretty much always incurs significant student loan debt and requires living in expensive urban areas.

    In a lot of cases, workers who get stuck on the adjunct path have much harder lives and lower take-home pay than someone working a minimum wage service industry job. It's a horrorshow of exploitation.

    Yeah. I don't want to glamorize the treatment of minimum wage service industry jobs, because they are often also treated in horrible, Kafka-esque ways, but given the society we live in, the only things that really make sense to me are either:
    a) find a niche where you can expend the absolute minimum amount of effort and keep your expectations really low (I envision something akin to "Clerks" but even that is probably nostalgia for simpler 1990s where you could get away with being a real slacker)
    OR
    b) absolutely cynical pursuit of money and your own self-interest, because that is what the system is structured around

    Both of which are frankly depressing and our society shouldn't be that way. To me, it's reminiscent of the final years of Soviet communism, where everyone knew that the system didn't work and the only rational response was to find the loopholes and look out for yourself.



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  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    Fuck you. Pay me.

    It's portrayed as cynical and counter productive. It's because when you say it as a wage slave you're being ungrateful. When you ferociously negotiate your severance package and compensation as a CEX you're just business savvy.

    Work isn't fun or they wouldn't pay you. That's the truth of it. People who are passionate about the thing they do are perceived as having fun.

    They've done studies on the appropriate number of times to smile as a server to ensure you're seen as polite but not enjoying yourself. Turns out people tip less or not at all if they think the worker is getting any enjoyment.

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  • PhillisherePhillishere Registered User regular
    edited August 2
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    Fuck you. Pay me.

    It's portrayed as cynical and counter productive. It's because when you say it as a wage slave you're being ungrateful. When you ferociously negotiate your severance package and compensation as a CEX you're just business savvy.

    Work isn't fun or they wouldn't pay you. That's the truth of it. People who are passionate about the thing they do are perceived as having fun.

    They've done studies on the appropriate number of times to smile as a server to ensure you're seen as polite but not enjoying yourself. Turns out people tip less or not at all if they think the worker is getting any enjoyment.

    While I'm doing overall well for myself, one of the weak spots in my resume is that I only stayed in my former positions for two to five years. The reason for that is that I work for a state that doesn't give raises or allow internal promotions, but always hires for new positions at the "market rate." The entire reason I have a steady increase in responsibility and pay during my career is that I decided to keep moving instead of staying put for decades while complaining about how it's all bullshit like many of my coworkers.

    But I have had more than a few interviews where the employer see this as "A Problem", and a lot of it comes down to how many employers want loyalty and long-term commitment without, you know, having to pay for it.

    Phillishere on
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  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    shryke wrote: »
    TehSpectre wrote: »
    Same thing with Americans tendency to stigmatize laziness. "What? Complaining you have too much work? You're just not trying hard enough!"
    "You only got all the tasks asked of you done?

    Bob got all this extra stuff done, way to do the bare-minimum"

    Joke's on Bob he did a bunch of work for free

    The problem is that said extra work is what the people who control as lot of your career advancement want to see.

    It's the same issue that leads to the minimum wage. It's a race to the bottom as people are willing to be exploited to move ahead.

    Assuming your job actually promotes internally, which it often doesnt meaningfully.

    For many of us the only incentive is to not get fired.

    My current job doesn't have internal promotions. For any open position, I need to apply as a new applicant and interview alongside outside candidates. Many won't take part in this, as the understanding is that if you weren't asked to apply then you are just asking for future awkwardness alongside your bosses and new colleague by going through the process.

    I'm not sure how common that is, but it isn't rare.

    Awkwardness, but god forbid you don't apply. "Why don't you see yourself staying with the company long term?"

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  • PhillisherePhillishere Registered User regular
    edited August 2
    Foefaller wrote: »
    This is how all of academia functions. It would not function without this nonsense ideal. I am too exhausted to make a long post just right now but will later.

    I'm pretty sure you could say that for pretty much all skilled labor, most educated positions, and many unskilled labor jobs.

    Academia relies on burning out a string of poorly paid part-timers with sub-minimum wages, unreliable contract jobs that can vanish days before a class will start, and no benefits. That's with the added bonus that their career-path pretty much always incurs significant student loan debt and requires living in expensive urban areas.

    In a lot of cases, workers who get stuck on the adjunct path have much harder lives and lower take-home pay than someone working a minimum wage service industry job. It's a horrorshow of exploitation.

    Yeah. I don't want to glamorize the treatment of minimum wage service industry jobs, because they are often also treated in horrible, Kafka-esque ways, but given the society we live in, the only things that really make sense to me are either:
    a) find a niche where you can expend the absolute minimum amount of effort and keep your expectations really low (I envision something akin to "Clerks" but even that is probably nostalgia for simpler 1990s where you could get away with being a real slacker)
    OR
    b) absolutely cynical pursuit of money and your own self-interest, because that is what the system is structured around

    Both of which are frankly depressing and our society shouldn't be that way. To me, it's reminiscent of the final years of Soviet communism, where everyone knew that the system didn't work and the only rational response was to find the loopholes and look out for yourself.

    Adjuncting combines all the worst aspects of the modern job market. It's a shitshow, and I don't see how they are going to sustain it in an era of imploding graduate school enrollments.

    Contracts only cover class time, so you are already being paid for a fraction of your labor. Contracts are per class, so many adjuncts will need to string together multiple contracts from different schools, which adds commuting time and transportation costs. This level of commitment also makes it difficult to find a second job to subsidize the low pay.

    Zero path for advancement. By the mores of academia, you have already failed at your profession if you didn't get a tenure track job right out of graduation, and your tenured peers will treat you accordingly.

    Courses are scheduled and contracted per year (sometimes per semester), and there is no guarantee of future employment or even that the original contract will be honored. It is quite common for adjuncts to have spent weeks preparing for a course (unpaid), then get a call a day before saying it was cancelled due to low enrollment. No class, no pay.

    No benefits. Minimum degree for a community college adjunct is masters level, so student loans are pretty much mandatory. Professional appearance and demeanor is mandatory, so declining physical and mental health means employment's is going away real soon.

    And since they make up 70 percent of instructors in the United States, adjuncting has slowly become the default employment situation for most people teaching at America's colleges and universities.

    Phillishere on
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  • discriderdiscrider Registered User regular
    It's pretty self-evident to me that enjoying what you do is a workplace perk that employees will sacrifice pay in order to obtain.
    I don't think it's fair to label all such activity 'exploiting'.
    At the very least, even if all employees were 'fuck you pay me', an enjoyable job is likely to have more applicants, and so those applicants are going to be able to demand less pay because there are more of them.

    I also don't think you can seperate the dumb 'must eat breathe live the job' passionate job requirement from 'I also do this unpaid at home' passionate.
    So the thread topping survey is always going to show that people think it's fairer to get the second guy to do more work, because the second guy was always going to do it of their own free will anyway.

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  • PhillisherePhillishere Registered User regular
    edited August 2
    discrider wrote: »
    It's pretty self-evident to me that enjoying what you do is a workplace perk that employees will sacrifice pay in order to obtain.
    I don't think it's fair to label all such activity 'exploiting'.
    At the very least, even if all employees were 'fuck you pay me', an enjoyable job is likely to have more applicants, and so those applicants are going to be able to demand less pay because there are more of them.

    I also don't think you can seperate the dumb 'must eat breathe live the job' passionate job requirement from 'I also do this unpaid at home' passionate.
    So the thread topping survey is always going to show that people think it's fairer to get the second guy to do more work, because the second guy was always going to do it of their own free will anyway.

    The survey quoted above explores this question. What it finds is that, when measured quantitatively, is that "passion" routinely and replicably can be found to negatively influence treatment and pay.

    Phillishere on
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  • HefflingHeffling No Pic EverRegistered User regular
    What will we discover next? That employers abuse workaholics?

    There is no individual solution to this issue. As employees, we need to unionize. As voters, we need to vote for candidates that will strengthen unions and act in the interests of the people over the interests of the rich.

    If a movement doesn't have someone that can sit down opposite those in a position of power and strike a deal, how can that movement achieve success?
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  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    shryke wrote: »
    TehSpectre wrote: »
    Same thing with Americans tendency to stigmatize laziness. "What? Complaining you have too much work? You're just not trying hard enough!"
    "You only got all the tasks asked of you done?

    Bob got all this extra stuff done, way to do the bare-minimum"

    Joke's on Bob he did a bunch of work for free

    The problem is that said extra work is what the people who control as lot of your career advancement want to see.

    It's the same issue that leads to the minimum wage. It's a race to the bottom as people are willing to be exploited to move ahead.

    Assuming your job actually promotes internally, which it often doesnt meaningfully.

    For many of us the only incentive is to not get fired.

    I've worked plenty of jobs where you're not going to get fired for doing the bare minimum, you're not going to get promoted for extra work either. But you'll be harangued, berated, publicly criticized, and otherwise harassed if you're not doing extra work. Not to mention how they'll treat you if you dare to take time off or request a vacation.

    It's very easy to get into a pattern where doing an extra 30 minutes of work a day is easier than spending the other 8 hours in a hostile work environment.

    There's nothing you can do except quit voluntarily and find something better. But it's shitty in the meantime.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    In conculsion, employment is a land of contrasts. Eat your boss.

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  • HacksawHacksaw J. Duggan Wrestler at LawRegistered User regular
    Polaritie wrote: »
    Unionize everything

    100% This.

    I work in my city's live entertainment industry, and my particular profession is fully unionized. It hasn't prevented Management from trying to screw us out of fair compensation and considerations at every opportunity they're presented with, but it's definitely prevented them from successfully exploiting us to the extent that they would like. We only go the extra mile when safety is on the line. Otherwise: you get what we give you, and we don't give you anything for free. Passion labor is always exploited labor when it makes someone else more money than it makes you.

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  • discriderdiscrider Registered User regular
    discrider wrote: »
    It's pretty self-evident to me that enjoying what you do is a workplace perk that employees will sacrifice pay in order to obtain.
    I don't think it's fair to label all such activity 'exploiting'.
    At the very least, even if all employees were 'fuck you pay me', an enjoyable job is likely to have more applicants, and so those applicants are going to be able to demand less pay because there are more of them.

    I also don't think you can seperate the dumb 'must eat breathe live the job' passionate job requirement from 'I also do this unpaid at home' passionate.
    So the thread topping survey is always going to show that people think it's fairer to get the second guy to do more work, because the second guy was always going to do it of their own free will anyway.

    The survey quoted above explores this question. What it finds is that, when measured quantitatively, is that "passion" routinely and replicably can be found to negatively influence treatment and pay.

    Had a further look.
    The study appears to show that people expect employees who are being abused at work have some reason for staying (being passionate).
    And also that it's more acceptable to ask more of someone who's passionate (working late, working on weekends, being abused by bosses?!).

    It also attempts to split a hair and tries to differentiate between:
    Abstract wrote:
    assumptions that passionate workers would have volunteered for this work if given the chance (Studies 1, 3, 5, 6, and 8), and (b) beliefs that, for passionate workers, work itself is its own reward
    Assuming that passionate for more overtime pay has been controlled for (which would drive statement 1 but not 2), these two statements seem to me to be identical.

    Frankly, some of these things do not appear to be exploitation to me.
    Asking someone to work more who wants to work more so that they work more at the agreed upon price, for instance.
    Other behaviours clearly are, such as bosses being hostile towards people who aren't going to leave what they love.

    But, this is a survey of opinion, so I'd expect attitudes based on the former 'exploitation' to bleed into and support the actual exploitation.
    Which does nothing to highlight the latter.

    Maybe the actual survey will be more nuanced, but I doubt it.
    I do not believe we can fully seperate people that are willing to tolerate exploitation in service of their work from people that, in service of their work, are willing to sacrifice other things, in the field either.
    Rather it seems to me to be a sliding scale, and we'd be better off addressing the obvious abuse at one side and working back across it until we find a comfortable medium position, rather than tarring the whole scale as exploitation.

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  • PhillisherePhillishere Registered User regular
    discrider wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    It's pretty self-evident to me that enjoying what you do is a workplace perk that employees will sacrifice pay in order to obtain.
    I don't think it's fair to label all such activity 'exploiting'.
    At the very least, even if all employees were 'fuck you pay me', an enjoyable job is likely to have more applicants, and so those applicants are going to be able to demand less pay because there are more of them.

    I also don't think you can seperate the dumb 'must eat breathe live the job' passionate job requirement from 'I also do this unpaid at home' passionate.
    So the thread topping survey is always going to show that people think it's fairer to get the second guy to do more work, because the second guy was always going to do it of their own free will anyway.

    The survey quoted above explores this question. What it finds is that, when measured quantitatively, is that "passion" routinely and replicably can be found to negatively influence treatment and pay.

    Had a further look.
    The study appears to show that people expect employees who are being abused at work have some reason for staying (being passionate).
    And also that it's more acceptable to ask more of someone who's passionate (working late, working on weekends, being abused by bosses?!).

    It also attempts to split a hair and tries to differentiate between:
    Abstract wrote:
    assumptions that passionate workers would have volunteered for this work if given the chance (Studies 1, 3, 5, 6, and 8), and (b) beliefs that, for passionate workers, work itself is its own reward
    Assuming that passionate for more overtime pay has been controlled for (which would drive statement 1 but not 2), these two statements seem to me to be identical.

    Frankly, some of these things do not appear to be exploitation to me.
    Asking someone to work more who wants to work more so that they work more at the agreed upon price, for instance.
    Other behaviours clearly are, such as bosses being hostile towards people who aren't going to leave what they love.

    But, this is a survey of opinion, so I'd expect attitudes based on the former 'exploitation' to bleed into and support the actual exploitation.
    Which does nothing to highlight the latter.

    Maybe the actual survey will be more nuanced, but I doubt it.
    I do not believe we can fully seperate people that are willing to tolerate exploitation in service of their work from people that, in service of their work, are willing to sacrifice other things, in the field either.
    Rather it seems to me to be a sliding scale, and we'd be better off addressing the obvious abuse at one side and working back across it until we find a comfortable medium position, rather than tarring the whole scale as exploitation.

    I've worked in some of these "passion" industries. It's just wholesale exploitation.

  • BrainleechBrainleech Registered User regular
    I have tales of I being an idiot while I was a support at Wal mart under very toxic managers {see the SE ++ job threads}
    I would stay late and go above and beyond to make sure it went smooth. Just my managers were telling me I was doing it wrong without telling me how I should do it in a constructive way {they would give me suggestions of write them up and other ways to rule through fear rather than what I was learned in NCO school about building a team and running it Which worked!}

  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    discrider wrote: »
    Frankly, some of these things do not appear to be exploitation to me.
    Asking someone to work more who wants to work more so that they work more at the agreed upon price, for instance.

    This is textbook exploitation. You are using the other person's desire to extract free labor out of them. At best, the person is being denied fair compensation for their work. At worst, this sets up a downward spiral where other employees are expected to also give free labor.

    The problem is not that the study is improperly calling things exploitation, but as a culture we've allowed exploitative acts to not be treated as such.

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  • Edith_Bagot-DixEdith_Bagot-Dix Registered User regular
    Foefaller wrote: »
    This is how all of academia functions. It would not function without this nonsense ideal. I am too exhausted to make a long post just right now but will later.

    I'm pretty sure you could say that for pretty much all skilled labor, most educated positions, and many unskilled labor jobs.

    Academia relies on burning out a string of poorly paid part-timers with sub-minimum wages, unreliable contract jobs that can vanish days before a class will start, and no benefits. That's with the added bonus that their career-path pretty much always incurs significant student loan debt and requires living in expensive urban areas.

    In a lot of cases, workers who get stuck on the adjunct path have much harder lives and lower take-home pay than someone working a minimum wage service industry job. It's a horrorshow of exploitation.

    Yeah. I don't want to glamorize the treatment of minimum wage service industry jobs, because they are often also treated in horrible, Kafka-esque ways, but given the society we live in, the only things that really make sense to me are either:
    a) find a niche where you can expend the absolute minimum amount of effort and keep your expectations really low (I envision something akin to "Clerks" but even that is probably nostalgia for simpler 1990s where you could get away with being a real slacker)
    OR
    b) absolutely cynical pursuit of money and your own self-interest, because that is what the system is structured around

    Both of which are frankly depressing and our society shouldn't be that way. To me, it's reminiscent of the final years of Soviet communism, where everyone knew that the system didn't work and the only rational response was to find the loopholes and look out for yourself.

    Adjuncting combines all the worst aspects of the modern job market. It's a shitshow, and I don't see how they are going to sustain it in an era of imploding graduate school enrollments.

    Contracts only cover class time, so you are already being paid for a fraction of your labor. Contracts are per class, so many adjuncts will need to string together multiple contracts from different schools, which adds commuting time and transportation costs. This level of commitment also makes it difficult to find a second job to subsidize the low pay.

    Zero path for advancement. By the mores of academia, you have already failed at your profession if you didn't get a tenure track job right out of graduation, and your tenured peers will treat you accordingly.

    Courses are scheduled and contracted per year (sometimes per semester), and there is no guarantee of future employment or even that the original contract will be honored. It is quite common for adjuncts to have spent weeks preparing for a course (unpaid), then get a call a day before saying it was cancelled due to low enrollment. No class, no pay.

    No benefits. Minimum degree for a community college adjunct is masters level, so student loans are pretty much mandatory. Professional appearance and demeanor is mandatory, so declining physical and mental health means employment's is going away real soon.

    And since they make up 70 percent of instructors in the United States, adjuncting has slowly become the default employment situation for most people teaching at America's colleges and universities.

    Yeah - I've had my eyes open to this area because I hire math and physics post-docs to work in finance. It is an eye-opener to see someone with that experience going to a $150k/year, six weeks vacation, complimentary gourmet lunch quant job at a hedge fund.



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  • TehSpectreTehSpectre Registered User regular
    Hacksaw wrote: »
    Polaritie wrote: »
    Unionize everything

    100% This.

    I work in my city's live entertainment industry, and my particular profession is fully unionized. It hasn't prevented Management from trying to screw us out of fair compensation and considerations at every opportunity they're presented with, but it's definitely prevented them from successfully exploiting us to the extent that they would like. We only go the extra mile when safety is on the line. Otherwise: you get what we give you, and we don't give you anything for free. Passion labor is always exploited labor when it makes someone else more money than it makes you.
    but hacksaw my employer has an open door policy
    Talking with any level of management about issues with management = "I see that this is an important issue for you, I'll look into it" = (How dare you imply myself or my peer or my team is doing something wrong; as non-management you should never imply we are equal to you even on a human level)

    Then you're a target, quietly.


    Or, like me, you're dogged by upper management when your supervisor isn't around and its a recurring issue and try to talk to your supervisor and they tell you "You need to work things out like adults" implying that I'm able to talk with someone 2 rungs above me like we're equals in power dynamics.

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  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    Those of you who know me from the Job thread have heard a considerable amount about how this happens in higher-education administration.

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  • PhillisherePhillishere Registered User regular
    edited August 2
    discrider wrote: »
    Frankly, some of these things do not appear to be exploitation to me.
    Asking someone to work more who wants to work more so that they work more at the agreed upon price, for instance.

    This is textbook exploitation. You are using the other person's desire to extract free labor out of them. At best, the person is being denied fair compensation for their work. At worst, this sets up a downward spiral where other employees are expected to also give free labor.

    The problem is not that the study is improperly calling things exploitation, but as a culture we've allowed exploitative acts to not be treated as such.

    One of the things that is hard for Americans to process is that, in a scene where a group of workers approaches the new hire who has been breaking his back to impress the boss and tells him to slow down, it's the group of workers who are morally correct.

    The reasons for that are several, but they boil down to the fact that busting ass to wow the boss or just because you love to work creates serious workplace issues. Your pace may be unsafe, it may create unrealistic expectations for other employees that aren't sustainable over the length of the project for anyone, and it does take pay from other workers when you are providing free labor to your employer out of enthusiasm.

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  • TehSpectreTehSpectre Registered User regular
    edited August 2
    discrider wrote: »
    discrider wrote: »
    It's pretty self-evident to me that enjoying what you do is a workplace perk that employees will sacrifice pay in order to obtain.
    I don't think it's fair to label all such activity 'exploiting'.
    At the very least, even if all employees were 'fuck you pay me', an enjoyable job is likely to have more applicants, and so those applicants are going to be able to demand less pay because there are more of them.

    I also don't think you can seperate the dumb 'must eat breathe live the job' passionate job requirement from 'I also do this unpaid at home' passionate.
    So the thread topping survey is always going to show that people think it's fairer to get the second guy to do more work, because the second guy was always going to do it of their own free will anyway.

    The survey quoted above explores this question. What it finds is that, when measured quantitatively, is that "passion" routinely and replicably can be found to negatively influence treatment and pay.

    Had a further look.
    The study appears to show that people expect employees who are being abused at work have some reason for staying (being passionate).
    And also that it's more acceptable to ask more of someone who's passionate (working late, working on weekends, being abused by bosses?!).

    It also attempts to split a hair and tries to differentiate between:
    Abstract wrote:
    assumptions that passionate workers would have volunteered for this work if given the chance (Studies 1, 3, 5, 6, and 8), and (b) beliefs that, for passionate workers, work itself is its own reward
    Assuming that passionate for more overtime pay has been controlled for (which would drive statement 1 but not 2), these two statements seem to me to be identical.

    Frankly, some of these things do not appear to be exploitation to me.
    Asking someone to work more who wants to work more so that they work more at the agreed upon price, for instance.
    Other behaviours clearly are, such as bosses being hostile towards people who aren't going to leave what they love.

    But, this is a survey of opinion, so I'd expect attitudes based on the former 'exploitation' to bleed into and support the actual exploitation.
    Which does nothing to highlight the latter.

    Maybe the actual survey will be more nuanced, but I doubt it.
    I do not believe we can fully seperate people that are willing to tolerate exploitation in service of their work from people that, in service of their work, are willing to sacrifice other things, in the field either.
    Rather it seems to me to be a sliding scale, and we'd be better off addressing the obvious abuse at one side and working back across it until we find a comfortable medium position, rather than tarring the whole scale as exploitation.
    This sure is a way to look at this.

    If you're not at a salaried position (typically) you get no say in your pay if you need the job. Note: you need a job if you're applying.

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  • discriderdiscrider Registered User regular
    discrider wrote: »
    Frankly, some of these things do not appear to be exploitation to me.
    Asking someone to work more who wants to work more so that they work more at the agreed upon price, for instance.

    This is textbook exploitation. You are using the other person's desire to extract free labor out of them. At best, the person is being denied fair compensation for their work. At worst, this sets up a downward spiral where other employees are expected to also give free labor.

    The problem is not that the study is improperly calling things exploitation, but as a culture we've allowed exploitative acts to not be treated as such.

    To clarify, I was talking about working overtime for overtime pay, but I what I wrote is instead a mess.

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  • discriderdiscrider Registered User regular
    edited August 2
    I would also say that salaried positions without some predefined contract cap in the number of hours worked is some hot late stage capitalism garbage, and I'm not sure how these relate to passionate workers, aside they might be more willing to accept the (should be illegal) contract in the first place.

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  • DiplominatorDiplominator Hardcore Porg Registered User regular
    vgIPhA7_d.jpg

    I've noticed myself falling into this trap more recently. I've been coming in on my off hours to work on qualifications but at least half the time I wind up helping out with the job even when it's not my shift. Like, I'll see my coworkers struggling and want to help them, and people are grateful, but they really shouldn't have been so understaffed in the first place.

    I'm enlisted military, though, so it's not like unionization or even quitting are options. We do have internal promotions, though, so I kinda just need to make sure my contributions get noticed (which I'm also bad about).

    And, to tie it back to the topic...I do actually like my job and I don't think I'd quit even if I could.

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  • Johnny ChopsockyJohnny Chopsocky Scootaloo! We have to cook! Grillin' HaysenburgersRegistered User regular
    edited August 3
    I used to work in a union shop.

    Then an employee got mad because they wanted the same number of vacation days that other more senior employees had, so they filed a formal challenge to the union and the employees voted and oops no more union now.

    I voted pro-union, but honestly the employee filling the complaint was right: the union had given up in us. The rep was a ghost 95% of the time, they kept capitulating to the corporate demands in negotiations, I kept watching my benefits shrink, and any threat of a strike was met with deep hearty top management chuckles while they reached for the phone to call in some designated scabs from other states. Because I live in a "right to work" (*cue the symphony of blown raspberries*) state and unions have no teeth here.

    Which sucks, because I do enjoy my work and am able to implement my philosophy of "if I'm in this building, it's because you're paying me to be here, and if I'm here for extra, you'll pay me more for that extra" without any pushback or even a contrary word from my immediate managers. I just wish my union had fought harder for me and my state wasn't so anti-worker.

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