During the research carried out for this paper, it was noted that one of the possible barriers to social impact and culture for solidarity gestures, is the working conditions of artists and cultural organisations. These conditions are precarious, unstable, with low pay and excessive work...
Paradoxically, the world of culture, art and social activities is based on the tension between the above described working conditions and the fact that the persons shaping this world very often have sincere, deeply rooted ideological motivation, and they invest in their work a lot of energy and life resources, engaging passion, hope and thoughts. Sometimes professional activities absorb these people totally, which is not so difficult, when the profession you practice is at the same time your passion and hobby. In a simple way it helps you efface boundaries between the work and private life.
Additional factors, such as flexible working hours, high mobility, combining social and professional life, increased sense of responsibility can soon stop being a blessing, a privilege and turn to a curse instead. The problem has been diagnosed in a powerful way by Miya Tokumitsu of Pennsylvania University in her paper opening with the famous slogan, Do what you love.(Miya Tokomitsu, In the name of love) Firstly, she points to the fact we seem to often forget and refers to the primacy of passion: many activities essential for the society can be hardly referred to as fascinating and stimulating. Unfortunately, these are also jobs that enjoy very little recognition, both socially and economically. The researcher argues that being so lavish with the positive thinking narrative and enhancing the love motivation at work not only encourages humiliation of professionals on the positions not connected with any big passion or fascination, but can even result in a peculiar invisibility of the huge area of services and people providing such services.
This, according to Tokumistu, is just the tip of the iceberg. For her the situation in the area of seemingly privileged professions is even more treacherous: “The »do what you love« mantra has also caused great damage to the professions it pretends to celebrate” she maintains, giving as the example the way universities operate and the situation of scholars employed in academia.
There are many factors that keep PhDs providing such high-skilled labor for such extremely low wages [...], but one of the strongest is how pervasively the »DWYL [do what you love]« doctrine is embedded in academia. Few other professions fuse the personal identity of their workers so intimately with the work output. This intense identification partly explains why so many proudly left-leaning faculty authorities remain oddly silent about the working conditions of their peers. Because academic research should be done out of pure love, the actual conditions of and compensation for this labor become afterthoughts, if they are considered at all.
This excerpt is from a paper based on the action research carried out by an international group of researchers and artists across Europe in 2018 as part of the Culture for Solidarity project. You can now access the final version of this participatory-action-research in both English and Polish. Soon we will also publish the Spanish version.