Volatile Bodies in Working Life. Ageing, Anger and Professional Burnout – The Breakdowns of Trust


The aim of the present study is to contribute to a theory of trust within post-industrial working life. The present study approaches social capital from its flip-side, by analysing experiences of vulnerability, particularly in contexts where trust breaks down. Not only are work communities in working life domains of social capital, but also places of more or less hidden injuries (Sennett and Cobb 1977) and violations (Hearn and Parkin 2001). In the present research project, we plan to study employees who are fatigued, ageing, and feel anger at work through different self-representations.


The main aims of this research project are:



To produce data on violating practices in working life and on the formation of social capital.

2. To analyse the dimensions of experience, emotionality, vulnerability, embodiment, and gender in the context of social capital and trust; and hence, to produce new ways of conceptualising social capital and trust.

To develop innovative methodological means for the study of experiences related to trust (i.e., how trust declines, breaks down and is regained) and injurious practices in working life.


The empirical data comprise written biographies, interviews, and some quantitative data. The theoretical starting point of the present project is the notion of the social formation of subjects, and within that framework, particularly the notion of the vulnerability and volatility of subjects (Grosz 1994). Our approach to the discussion on trust and social capital will be critical in two respects. Firstly, the present project will focus on structures of power and inequalities related to social capital and trust, as well as on those exclusive practices that isolate individuals from a sense of community (Bourdieu 1986; 1999). Secondly, our approach will, in particular, recognize the fundamental connection of the gendered nature of power and social capital with weaknesses and dependences (Baier 1986; Sevenhuijsen 1998).


Individual research projects:


Professional Burnout within Violating Practices. Lived and Narrated Networks of Trust among Young Professional Workers

(Marja Kaskisaari)

Anger and Distrust. The Emotional Process of Losing and Rebuilding Trust in the Violating Practices of Working Life

(Tuija Virkki)


Researcher in charge: Raija Julkunen


Vice researcher in charge: Marja Kaskisaari


Researcher: Tuija Virkki