Ocularcentric Labour: "You don't do this for money"

Jennifer Sappey, Glenda Maconachie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Building on the tradition of emotional labour and aesthetic labour, this study of fitness workers introduces the concept of 'ocularcentric labour' (the worker seeking the adoring gaze of the client as the primary reward). It is a state in which labour's quest for the psycho-social rewards gained from their own body image shapes the employment relationship (both the organization of work and the conditions of employment). We argue that for many fitness workers the goal is to gain access to the positional economy of the fitness centre to promote their celebrity. For this they are willing to trade-off standard conditions of employment, and exchange traditional employment rewards for the more intrinsic psycho-social rewards gained through the exposure of their physical capital to the adoration of theirgazing clients. Significantly, with ocularcentric labour the worker becomes both the site of production and consumption.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)498-518
Number of pages21
JournalRelations Industrielles
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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