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Connective Labor: A Science or An Art

Presenters Name: 
Genevieve Charles
Co Presenters Name: 
Primary Research Mentor: 
Allison Pugh
Secondary Research Mentor: 
2:00 - 2:15
Time of Presentation: 
2019 - 2:00pm to 2:15pm
Room 389
Presentation Type: 
Presentations Academic Category: 
Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: 
USOAR Program

Relationships are emotional connections between individuals who are unpredictable and vary dramatically from each other; yet some forms of service work require people to use their relationships to aid others.We define that work as "connective labor," and we investigate how workers get trained to systematically develop and deploy relationships in their jobs. We engage in 20 hours of ethnographic observations and 2 interviews with two groups of these workers, hospital chaplains and student services counselors. We analyze similarities and differences in their training, focusing on how worker age, explicit narratives of the work's meaning, and the perceived traits of patients/clients shape the way relationships are taught. Specifically, we examine the impact of these characteristics on the degree to which connective labor training is presented as involving a mystical art of human connection, or instead a skills-based science, structured by rules, metrics and data. Findings will contribute to our understanding of how to improve and enhance relationship-based work.