A new monthly post outlining recent programmes relevant to Sociology on TV – most will be on the BBC as iPlayer’s what I mainly use to access televisual hyperreality.
Just one to kick off with – because I just watched it. This might well be the only programme and the only post too, this kind of thing’s got ‘summer project, no way I’ll keep this up when term starts’ written all the way through it.
Useful for showing the extent of inequality in Britain, and providing an insight into life in low-pay work. You could supplement this with Polly Toynbe’s ‘Hard Work’ which provides more in-sight through participant observation and interviews.
A documentary in which 20 workers compete against each other in some of Britain’s lowest wage jobs – after four hours in each job, the least productive workers get sent home. In the first episode the workers work as hotel cleaners and as waste-pickers (recycling paper).
This is actually quite an insightful documentary – the whole process is overseen by a manager who analyses performance data, which is benchmarked against industry averages – 24 minutes to clean a hotel room, 100KG of paper waste picked in an hour per person (roughly – actually I think that was right, sounds like a lot of paper) – so you get a decent look at what life is like in these jobs, and what people have to actually do for minimum wage.
Of course you get the usual life-stories from the various workers, but this in itself is quite interesting too – most of them seem to have suffered genuine hardship, in the form of coming from a deprived background or having lost a decent job – so they all seem to actually need a job. In other words, these aren’t your usual people – not the privileged middle classes
Which is unlike the presenter and the various journalists she interviews who provide no real insight into how we got into this mess in the first place.
So an odd one this – the bits I usually find interesting (the analysis) isn’t and the bits I usually fast-forward – the personal-stuff is more interesting.