The topic of my Engaged Project focuses on U.S. work culture, how it affects people, and what people could do in order to resist or minimize those effects. I researched labor force history, the physical and mental effects of U.S. work culture on people, and mutual aid/the importance of rest. My final project was to create an Instagram account providing young people, primarily college students, with examples of people’s experiences and opinions on work culture, ways of resisting capitalism, and pieces of media or books they could read to learn more about these topics.
Sponsor: Margarita Fuentes
Student reflection excerpt:
This project helped me learn that my topic is a lot more relevant to the current time than I initially had thought. Through my research and conversations with a variety of people, I realized that many people are exhausted and disillusioned about the future, especially ever since the pandemic started, because they are realizing they need to rest or they aren’t happy with spending most of their lives working. Particularly when it comes to college students entering the workforce, I had noticed a trend in social media posts of people wishing they could do anything but work constantly. People are in need of hope that one day things might change, the expectations for how to lead a happy or healthier life might shift into something that doesn’t expect us to constantly be productive, or doesn’t require so many sacrifices that affect our mental and physical health.
If I could go back, I would have probably given myself more time to talk to people and maybe do some in depth interviews with people who were working full time jobs, college students who are about to graduate, recent graduates, etc.
I recognize the irony of your Engaged Project; your quest to study and produce content about the harms of productivity became another example of “work” that, at times, was depleting. That being said, I hope that ultimately this semester-long experience was intellectually nourishing and personally rewarding for you. I also hope that if you remain interested in this topic, you continue learning about the past, present, and possible futures of “work” as we know it – and that you continue to share your findings in an accessible, visually-engaging way with the public. I, for one, will be following your Instagram for sure!