Men, work, and business: New research by Andreas Giazitzoglu

Who forms and runs small businesses? The answer to this question, globally, is white men. White men are associated with enterprise, both statistically and in terms of cultural portrayals (e.g when business people are portrayed in the media, they are often shown to be white men). Yet, what sort of identities do such men project and want to project? And why are these identities important? In this article, I ask: how do a group of men who own and run small businesses and who live in a rural British town ‘perform’ identities they believe are linked to an image of business, in front of each other, when socialising as a network? The men’s performance is positioned as a way of them gaining legitimacy among each other. The men perform within a strict hierarchy and use commodities and status-symbols to affirm their position and denote their identities as serious local business men. See:

Giazitzoglu A, Down S. (2015) ‘Performing entrepreneurial masculinity: an ethnographic accountInternational Small Business Journal. Sage.

In a capitalist society, to work is to gain a level of dignity and respect from fellow citizens (as well as acquire financial capital). But what's it like when a man fails to work, especially in a post-industrial locale where, historically, masculinity and labour are intrinsically linked? Further, what happens when a man claims to consensually eschew work and chooses to rely on welfare for survival? In this article, I examine how a cohort of British men who claim to be consensually unemployed, and who rely on welfare benefits for their existence, experience their lives. In particular, I focus on the social stigma that the men’s lack of employment creates for them, and how this stigma is managed. The men analysed here appear content to reject the prospect of working and accept the vilification and relative financial poverty this creates for them. See:

Giazitzoglu A. (2014) ‘Learning not to labour: an analysis of consensual male unemployment’. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 34 (5/6): 334-348. Emerald.

In a further piece of work, I look at how upward social mobility is experienced. Upward social mobility occurs when a person comes to belong in a ‘higher’ social class than their class of origin. Yet, what's it like for a man who starts off in one social class and - through education, work and other factors - ends up in a new social class, probably living in a new place and with a new type of person, where cultural rules he may not be familiar with guide social interactions? Insights into how upward mobility is ‘lived’ by men are rare. Here, how social mobility is lived, experienced and defined by a cohort of men is explored. The impact that the mass- media has on the examined men is focused upon. The work is rooted within the north-east region of England (UK). it is shown that the mass media provides a didactic version of masculinity, which my participants emulate and replicate in their own lives, as they attempt to be seen as authentic members of the 'middleclass', having derived from working class homes. Somewhat sadly, the men don't seem very happy, having abandoned their working class roots to 'arrive' at middleclass culture. See:

Giazitzoglu A. (2014) ‘Qualitative Upward Mobility, the Mass-Media and 'Posh' Masculinity in Contemporary North-East Britain: A Micro Sociological Case-Study’. Sociological Research Online 19 (2). Sage.