Professional Women at Work: Interactions, Tacit Understandings, and the Non-Trivial Nature of Trivia in Bureaucratic Settings

Professional Women at Work: Interactions, Tacit Understandings, and the Non-Trivial Nature of Trivia in Bureaucratic Settings

Professional Women at Work: Interactions, Tacit Understandings, and the Non-Trivial Nature of Trivia in Bureaucratic Settings

Professional Women at Work: Interactions, Tacit Understandings, and the Non-Trivial Nature of Trivia in Bureaucratic Settings

Synopsis

This book looks at the routine taken-for-granted features of work as experienced by professional women in bureaucratic environments. It shows why these trivial features are not trivial, but add up to a good part of what all work is composed of. Finally, it considers why the women interviewed in this study encountered and experienced their professional careers in the ways they did. There are many books on the general subject of women at work and the sociology of work, but few deal with what the work consists of, how it is accomplished, what one needs to know to undertake it competently, and how it is experienced by the worker. This book deals with all these issues, and more, that are typically overlooked in the literature on women at work in particular and on work in general.

Excerpt

We made a trip to the Gulf [of California]. . . . One of the reasons we gave ourselves for this trip--and when we used this reason, we called the trip an expedition--was to observe the distribution of invertebrates, to see and record their kinds and numbers, how they lived together, what they ate, and how they reproduced. That plan was simple, straight-forward, and only part of the truth. But we did tell the truth to ourselves. We were curious. . . . We wanted to see everything our eyes would accommodate, to think what we could, and, out of our seeing and thinking, to build some kind of structure in modeled imitation of the observed reality. We knew that what we would see and record and construct would be warped, as all knowledge patterns are warped. . . . But knowing this, we might not fall into too many holes--we might maintain some balance between our warp and the separate thing, the external reality. . . . For example: the Mexican sierra has "XVII-15-IX" spines in the dorsal fin. These can easily be counted. But if the sierra strikes hard on the line so that our hands are burned, if the fish sounds and nearly escapes and finally comes in over the rail, his colors pulsing and his tail beating the air, a whole new relational externality has come into being--an entity which is more than the sum of the fish plus the fisherman. The only way to count the spines of the sierra unaffected by this second relational reality is to sit in the laboratory, open an evil-smelling jar, remove a stiff . . .

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