Distinction at Work: Status Practices in a Community Production Environment

Friday, June 24, 2016: 9:00 AM-10:30 AM
107 South Hall (South Hall)
William Attwood-Charles, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Juliet Schor, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Abstract: Recently, large U.S. institutions have flattened out to become more efficient. In this paper we ask how people respond to work environments that lack conventional, economic status markers. Are status competitions reduced, as the architects of leveling hope it will be? Or does status-seeking move into new domains where organizational dictates are absent? Our case is a makerspace, an organization that emphasizes openness, community and egalitarianism. On the basis of 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork and 35 in-depth interviews, we find that despite organizational intention, a visible status group emerged, and that culturally-based distinguishing practices became the mechanism by which status was performed and achieved.