Our place of work and the role as employee has radically shifted over the last few decades. Our service economy with its identical retail, distribution and call centres, hot desks and clean desk policies, anonymous non person specific workstations, uprooted to home, to the café, to wherever the unit of activity can be completed. The hierarchical home for our labour is now fragmented, remote and dispersed. Apprenticeships, working our way up the ladder, a job for life, security, an industrial fortnight, the coach trip to the coast with work, the Christmas do, the carriage clock and the retirement party...most, if not all, now consigned to the past. It was an era of trading your time of today for the promised jam of tomorrow. For some it provided certainty, structure, friendship and companionship for decades; for others it was a strait jacket, trapping them from their dreams and aspirations of a different life. And within the industrial landscape of the factory floor and recreational spaces arevisual reminders of human life existing within the manufacturing process.
As workers we may all identify with the mixed and contradictory senses of emotion as we pass through the working life cycle. However, as industry gives way to accelerated technological change, the cultures of work are now subject to a social revolution. With access to a working factory in Birmingham, the bond and interaction created in the working environment is examined, exposing a man-made legacy that was never intended: the sense of personal territory, pride and loathing and what it means ‘to go to work' in a post- industrial north Birmingham.