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Bourdieu and the gendered social structure of working time: A study of self-employed human resources professionals

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Steve VincentORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


This paper uses the sociology of Bourdieu to explore the social structure of working time and uses this approach to analyse interview data from 25 self-employed human resources professionals practicing in the UK. More specifically, Bourdieu's approach to resources as forms of capital that are deployed strategically by actors within social fields, is used to compare outcomes for respondents with different working time patters. The findings demonstrate that self-employed professionals' uses of resources is affected by distinctive and gendered temporal rhythms within and between social fields. These temporal patterns typically serve the interests of well-resourced (more typically male) actors who structure their lives according to specific routines. Self-employed people with less working time often struggle to synchronise their lives with their environments and so are often at a disadvantage in accessing and using resources. The analysis, which develops novel propositions about the ways in which actors become differentially adapted to the social structure of time, facilitates a more fine-grained and relational appreciation of gendered advantages within self-employed careers which is likely to have wider applicability and the potential for broader impact.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Vincent S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Human Relations

Year: 2016

Volume: 69

Issue: 5

Pages: 1163-1184

Print publication date: 01/05/2016

Online publication date: 15/03/2016

Acceptance date: 17/08/2015

Date deposited: 27/01/2015

ISSN (print): 0018-7267

ISSN (electronic): 1741-282X

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd


DOI: 10.1177/0018726715612898


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