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Fun at Work


Work is not fun—they are not mutually inclusive concepts. Work is not intended to be fun. Definitions of work are notoriously slippery. As Strangleman and Warren suggest, it can mean effort or labour or more specifically what a person does to earn money (Strangleman and Warren 2008: 1). The ways in which we deploy the term are many and various. However, one thing that is not a definitional characteristic of work is fun. If a person does have fun whilst at work, this is a happy by-product of the real purpose of work—which is to be productive, in whatever form that might take. This is no more apparent than in the rhetoric of work/life balance. The term itself implies that work is a distraction from those other elements of life that are fulfilling, joyful and meaningful.


  • Subjective Well Being
  • Productive Task
  • Emotional Labour
  • Work Company
  • Mental Health Crisis

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  1. 1.

    Work and employment are bound up with not only ideas of pay and task but also identity and self-respect/status. For the purposes of this argument I am talking about how we feel when we are at work rather than the more abstract or symbolic ideas that also surround work.

  2. 2.

    Gamification is a relatively new way of managing work that implies that productivity is enhanced by making everything a game. Whilst the merits of this approach are rehearsed elsewhere, the reason this book does not concentrate on it is that there is no suggestion of the imputation of fun in work that is not covered by the fun at work literature—the idea that productivity is increased if fun is instituted as a characteristic of work or workplaces.


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Fincham, B. (2016). Fun at Work. In: The Sociology of Fun. Palgrave Macmillan, London.

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