For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Meaningful Work? Nonprofit Marketization and Work/ Life Imbalance in Popular Autobiographies of Social Entrepreneurship"

by Dempsey, Sarah E; Sanders, Matthew L (2010)


As social entrepreneurship gains increasing acclaim and institutional support, there is a need for greater critical assessment of its practices and effects, including how it relates to current concerns about meaningful work. Our critical analysis of popular autobiographies of social entrepreneurs provides insight into how marketization forces are shaping the construction of meaningful work within the US nonprofit context. Our findings illustrate that although popular portrayals of social entrepreneurship offer a compelling vision of meaningful work centred on solving pressing social problems, they also celebrate a troubling account of work/life balance centred on self-sacrifice, underpaid and unpaid labour and the privileging of organizational commitment at the expense of health, family and other aspects of social reproduction. In focusing critical attention on popular autobiographies, our analysis contributes to ongoing efforts to understand how popular culture assists in reproducing problematic assumptions about work and professional life.

Key Passage



Meaningful Work, Meaning Of Work, Well-Being, Psychology, Happiness, Social Reproduction


Meaningful Work

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