chapter  25
14 Pages

A cultural politics of work: resistance and escape in the culture of organizing

WithMartin Parker

But imagine yourself here, and you will be surrounded by promises. The betting shops have displays which hint at the mountains of cash on offer to someone who picks the right odds, and show pictures of steel-thighed footballers slamming the ball into the back of the net. The travel agent has pictures of a golden beach and a blue sky, a huge cruise liner in an exotic port, the skyline of New York, glittering like last year’s Christmas tree. A newsagent window tells you that you could be a millionaire next week if you scratch the right card or tick the right box, and sells a lot of cigarettes and porn inside. Several massage parlours offer a simulation of the real thing, under signboards saying ‘Executive’, ‘Little Tingles’ and ‘Head Office’. A billboard invites you to share the glory of the local premiership football team, another invites you to a blockbusting film in which determined looking men escape from somewhere or somebody,

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teeth. On the bus stop, an advert for an employment agency with a smiling white man looking at the camera, inviting you to work. Someone has added teeth and glasses, an ejaculating cock and balls, and written ‘WANKER’ underneath. People in this city seem to exist on promises nowadays, on the idea that there could be an alternative to being here, now, on a pavement dotted with chewing gum and sparkling splinters of last night’s glass.