Dr David Farrugia
School of Humanities and Social Science
- Phone:(02) 4985 4385
Disentangling identity, work and economic value
Sociologist David Farrugia is examining how youth identities are created through the dynamics of work in contemporary societies.
Dr David Farrugia, a member of the Newcastle Youth Studies Network, is a sociologist whose work addresses issues of unemployment, labour and labour force formation from the perspective of identity. His work demonstrates how young people’s identities contribute to the creation of economic value, and how the formation of labour forces emerges from young people’s identity practices.
Farrugia says the contemporary youth labour market is characterised by high levels of insecurity and unemployment and to deal with this situation, young people are encouraged to work on themselves - to cultivate ‘employability’, qualifications, or ‘soft skills’ in order to manage labour market insecurity.
“In particular, young people are encouraged to form identities as workers – to see themselves as people who can create value and profit in the labour force, and to cultivate aspects of themselves that may be seen as valuable by employers. My work therefore examines how young people cultivate identities as workers, and how this relates to the creation of economic value.”
Farrugia’s research suggests that creating identities as workers is seen as a huge priority in young people’s lives. Young people in his studies view work as the most critical thing that will determine their future success, and they hope that a strong personal investment in work and labour will increase their chances of success at work and happiness in life.
“So we are seeing an ongoing personal investment in work, despite the increasingly precarious environment that young people are in. And because the value of the self as a worker is tied to the value that young people feel that they can create at work, the experience of unemployment can produce feelings of being personally worthless.
Young hospitality workers
Farrugia is leading an Australian Research Council project titled ‘Young Hospitality Workers and Value Creation in the Service Economy’ which shows that youth identities are critical sources of value in the hospitality industry and not necessarily because of their work skills, but more due to their youthful attributes.
“Young people are preferred workers in industries such as hospitality. This is partly because they are seen as a ‘flexible’ workforce in a poorly paid industry. However, in some parts of the industry, young workers are also seen as valuable because of their identities: their ability to look ‘cool’ in a ‘cool’ venue, their ability to interact with consumers in a fun way, and their connection with youth subcultures such as music scenes that are also a part of the night time economy. So in this case, their identities ‘outside’ of work are actually drawn in to the value they create for employers at their jobs,” Farrugia observed.
The project aims to investigate how labour performed by young people in the hospitality industry contributes to the creation of economic value. Farrugia says labour in this sector makes complex and unexamined demands on young workers, but is widely regarded as unskilled. The project will examine the specific practices through which hospitality workers create value, and will explore the personal capacities and forms of identity that allow young people to become a successful part of the hospitality labour force. The knowledge gained in this project will inform current social and political debate about working conditions, wages and penalty rates in the service economy.
“Through a focus on how young people join the service labour force, this project will facilitate policies aiming to support employment for young people and enhance value creation in the service economy,” Farrugia said. “This project contributes to efforts to enhance the quality of Australia’s service workforce, and supports growth and job creation within the service sector.”
Amidst public debates about working conditions and penalty rates in these industries, Farrugia and his team of academics will unpack the actual working practices that constitute this poorly remunerated and precarious form of labour and examine the way that these practices produce economic value.
Interviews with hospitality workers will aim to understand the particular kind of atmosphere or experience that workers are attempting to create at work, and how this experience is seen to facilitate consumption within a venue. Ethnographic observation will also take place in hospitality venues in Newcastle and Melbourne, and through visual methods including photo and video capture and elicitation the scholarly team will observe the bodily comportment, gestures and the way people position themselves in a venue.
“If labour is now based on styles of personal embodiment and interaction formed outside of work or training, what are the specific working practices through which these capacities contribute to the creation of value? How are young workers’ modes of personal identity mobilised at work, and how does this relate to commodity exchange in the service economy?” Farrugia asks. “Answering these questions is critical to understanding the relationship between labour and value in the contemporary service sector, and a substantial evidence base is required to inform ongoing public debate and policymaking in this area.”
Spaces of youth
Farrugia is motivated by understanding the relationship between youth identities and broader social and economic processes, including industrial transformation, the emergence of new forms of work (including interactive work and digital work), and globalisation. He says he approaches all problems by interrogating existing social debates from the perspective of contemporary issues in sociology.
“There is a disciplinary perspective to what I do in terms of advancing sociological knowledge and a socially oriented perspective where I aim to address important social changes that impact on people’s day to day lives. These two things are always intertwined,” he said.
This extends to Farrugia’s 2018 book Spaces of youth: Work, citizenship and culture in a global context. In the book, Farrugia shows that the concept of developmental time has become a regulatory framework that is used to govern aspects of globalisation, including the formation of labour forces and the boundaries of liberal citizenship regimes.
“Young people are the target of a range of interventions designed to craft a ‘global’ society, which as global citizenship education programs or attempts to encourage young people to see themselves as mobile workers,” he said.
In this context, the book presents a spatial approach to youth, which understands ‘youth’ not as a ‘time of life’, Farrugia explains, but rather as a phenomenon that is produced through changes in the geographical distribution of employment, the movement of popular cultural images, and shifts in the nature of political boundaries.
“It also shows that youth is a concept that is used by powerful institutions in order to understand and intervene in the world, in which the development of youth is seen as connected to social, economic and political development across the world.”
Sociologist David Farrugia is examining how youth identities are created through the dynamics of work in contemporary societies.Dr David Farrugia, a member of the Newcastle Youth Studies Network, is a sociologist whose work addresses issues of unemployment, labour and labour…
David Farrugia is supporting the development of strong regional communities
Sociologist Dr David Farrugia is supporting the development of strong regional communities through his study of how youth in regional areas are responding to conditions of high unemployment and industrial restructuring.
Dr Farrugia, a member of the Newcastle Youth Studies Group, secured a 2016 Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award to support his three-year project which will provide an innovative evidence base for the design of welfare interventions and social policies that support marginalised young people to build fulfilling employment futures.
The project, titled ‘The Formation of Young Workers: A Multi Sited Study on the Periphery’, has two components. The first part focuses on key social changes connected with the geographical distribution of work.
Dr Farrugia says an important example of this is the shift in Australia from an economy that’s based primarily on manufacturing and primary industries to an economy that is based on services. Anything from accountants at one end to the people that make those accountants coffee in the morning.
“This shift has taken place differently in areas. In the big cities we have seen the explosion of a service sector. But in the regions you have places that were dependant on one or two industries and the absence of those industries creates a really unique situation in the labour market,” he said.
Changes to labour market are also related to changes in the relationship between young people and work, which is the second component of Dr Farrugia’s project.
“Because of where young people today tend to work, there has been a breakdown in any kind of meaningful distinction between the person you are in general, the skills that you have to go to work, and the actual practice of doing your job,” Dr Farrugia explains.
“They are expected not just to get jobs but to invest themselves in work and to have work be fundamental to who they are. For example, young people are disproportionately working in jobs that involve face-to-face interaction with people – anything from working in a café to a hotel. These types of businesses value ‘youthfulness’. If you can present an appropriately youthful disposition this is seen as a ‘nice encounter’ that the customer will enjoy.
“This kind of service work encourages young people to believe: What I do in my work is I perform my personality. So, what’s happening is the distinction between your life, your personality and your work is breaking down. There are now an increasing number of jobs where your job is your personality, and the interaction is the work.”
While government policy is often aimed at strengthening service labour markets in big cities, Dr Farrugia says little has been done to examine regional and outer-urban areas – as they are seen as irrelevant to policy makers.
“These are young people who are seen, in a sense, as uninteresting and unimportant. Not only that but they are encouraged, If you can’t get a job, move, go to where there is work,” Dr Farrugia said.
“This ignores the fact that young people form identities as workers in the context of local place to which they are often really attached and have provided the only resources they have had for navigating the labour market.”
A longitudinal study and in-depth interviews with a group of about 90 young people will focus on regions where there has been a particular pattern of industrial restructuring and change to the labour market in general and, particularly, the youth labour market.
However, while the project is set in regional Australia, Dr Farrugia says these areas are important focal points of broader social and economic changes that reflect the dynamics of globalisation.
“These regions are hotspots of very rapid changes in the labour market – changes that are emblematic of broader changes in the global organisation of work that have seen countries like Australia shift to increasingly urban-centric service economies.” Dr Farrugia said.
“Regional areas teach us not just about the regions, they teach us about the Australian labour force, the Australian labour market and Australia’s position within the dynamics of globalisation – and that is why they need to be studied. That is why they need to be included in government policy,” Dr Farrugia concludes.
University of Newcastle sociologist Dr David Farrugia is questioning the assumptions on which our policies around rural youth are based.
- Doctor of Philosophy, University of Melbourne
- Bachelor of Arts (Honours)(Psychology), Australian National University
- Rural Youth
- SOCA3230 Identity and Culture
- Social Change
- Sociological Theory
- Youth Inequality
Fields of Research
|160899||Sociology not elsewhere classified||100|
|Title||Organisation / Department|
|Senior Lecturer||University of Newcastle
School of Humanities and Social Science
For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.
Book (2 outputs)
Farrugia D, Spaces of youth: Work, citizenship and culture in a global context, Routledge, Abington, Oxon (2018) [A1]
Farrugia D, Youth homelessness in late modernity: reflexive identities and moral worth, Springer, Singapore, 172 (2016) [A1]
Chapter (5 outputs)
McGregor J, Farrugia D, 'Doing Research in Organisations: Implications of the Different Definitions of Youth', Complexities of Researching with Young People, Routledge, New York (2019)
Farrugia DM, 'Space and place in studies of childhood and youth', Handbook of Children and Youth Studies, Springer, Singapore 609-624 (2015) [B1]
Farrugia DM, Smyth J, Harrison T, ''Vulnerable', 'At-Risk', 'Disengaged': Regional Young People', Interrogating Conceptions of 'Vulnerable Youth' in Theory, Policy and Practice, Sense Publishers, Rotterdam 165-180 (2015) [B1]
|Show 2 more chapters|
Journal article (32 outputs)
Farrugia D, 'Youth, work and global capitalism: new directions', Journal of Youth Studies, (2020)
© 2020, © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This paper lays the groundwork for a research agenda on the formation of young people as workers, and t... [more]
© 2020, © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This paper lays the groundwork for a research agenda on the formation of young people as workers, and therefore as subjects that are produced, valorised and devalorised within transnational movements of capital and labour. Theoretical development in the study of youth and work takes place primarily through the study of biographical movements through the labour markets of the global north. This agenda has marginalised the role that young people play in the dynamics of labour and value in changing industries, and the transformation of youth labour forces in the global South. In this context, this paper explores the valorisation and devalorisation of youth subjectivities as part of processes of labour force formation within the diverse spaces of contemporary global capitalism. The paper shows how changes in the nature of labour forces transform the nature of youth, which is characterised by new productive capacities through becoming a part of economic change. In this, the paper suggests a future agenda focused on how youth subjectivities are formed within the dynamics of labour, value and production in a global context, and therefore offers a new agenda beyond the contemporary focus on transitions in the global north.
Farrugia D, 'How youth become workers: Identity, inequality and the post-Fordist self', Journal of Sociology, 55 708-723 (2019) [C1]
© The Author(s) 2019. Post-Fordism describes a situation in which precarity and un/underemployment becomes normalised while the requirement for young people to seek subjectivity t... [more]
© The Author(s) 2019. Post-Fordism describes a situation in which precarity and un/underemployment becomes normalised while the requirement for young people to seek subjectivity through work is intensified. In this context, this article draws on interviews with youth living in regions of high youth unemployment to examine how young people create identities as workers. The article shows that young people approach the cultivation of a working self in terms of how the capacity for productive labour contributes to projects of ¿self-realisation¿. Classed subjectivities are formed through the different ethics through which young people approach the formation of the self as a worker. This demonstrates how the disciplinary requirements of work contribute to the contemporary experience of class among youth. The article concludes by suggesting that generational shifts in the experience of youth currently associated with employment insecurity can be usefully understood in terms of the dynamics of post-Fordist labouring subjectivities.
Farrugia D, 'Class and the post-Fordist work ethic: Subjects of passion and subjects of achievement in the work society', SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW, 67 1086-1101 (2019) [C1]
Farrugia D, 'Class, place and mobility beyond the global city: stigmatisation and the cosmopolitanisation of the local', JOURNAL OF YOUTH STUDIES, 23 237-251 (2019)
Farrugia D, Hanley JE, Sherval M, Askland HH, Askew MG, Coffey JE, Threadgold SR, 'The local politics of rural land use: Place, extraction industries and narratives of contemporary rurality', JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY, 55 306-322 (2019) [C1]
Farrugia D, 'The formation of young workers: The cultivation of the self as a subject of value to the contemporary labour force', Current Sociology, 67 47-63 (2019) [C1]
© The Author(s) 2018. This article explores the practices through which young people cultivate themselves as subjects of value to the post-Fordist labour force. In this, the artic... [more]
© The Author(s) 2018. This article explores the practices through which young people cultivate themselves as subjects of value to the post-Fordist labour force. In this, the article goes beyond an existing emphasis on young people¿s ¿transitions¿ through employment, to a focus on the practices through which young people are formed as labouring subjects, and therefore on the relationship between youth subjectivities and post-Fordist labour force formation. Theoretically, the article builds upon increasingly influential suggestions in studies of post-Fordism that the formation of post-Fordist workers now takes place through the conversion of the whole of a subject¿s life into the capacity for labour, including affective styles, modes of relationality, and characteristics usually not considered as productive dimensions of the self. In this context, the article shows that whilst young people form themselves as workers through practices that are not specific to institutionalised definitions of education and labour, these practices ¿ and the modes of selfhood they aim to cultivate ¿ vary in ways that contribute to classed divisions within post-Fordist societies. In this, the study of the formation of young workers offers a critical insight into the way that the formation of subjectivities intertwines with the disciplinary requirements of post-Fordist labour in their classed manifestations.
Farrugia D, 'Youthfulness and immaterial labour in the new economy', Sociological Review, 66 511-526 (2018) [C1]
Sherval M, Askland H, Askew M, Hanley J, Farrugia D, Threadgold SR, Coffey J, 'Farmers as modern-day stewards and the rise of new rural citizenship in the battle over land use', Local Environment: the international journal of justice and sustainability, 23 100-116 (2018) [C1]
Threadgold SR, Farrugia D, Askland H, Askew M, Hanley J, Sherval M, Coffey J, 'Affect, risk and local politics of knowledge: changing land use in Narrabri, NSW', Environmental Sociology, 4 393-404 (2018) [C1]
Threadgold SR, Farrugia D, Coffey J, 'Young subjectivities and affective labour in the service economy', Journal of Youth Studies, 21 272-287 (2018) [C1]
Coffey J, Threadgold SR, Farrugia D, Sherval M, Hanley J, Askew M, Askland H, ' If you lose your youth, you lose your heart and your future : Affective figures of youth in community tensions surrounding a proposed Coal Seam Gas project', Sociologica Ruralis, 58 665-683 (2018) [C1]
Coffey JE, Farrugia DM, Adkins L, Threadgold SR, 'Gender, Sexuality, and Risk in the Practice of Affective Labour for Young Women in Bar Work', SOCIOLOGICAL RESEARCH ONLINE, 23 728-743 (2018) [C1]
Farrugia D, Wood BE, 'Youth and Spatiality: Towards Interdisciplinarity in Youth Studies', Young, 25 209-218 (2017) [C1]
Farrugia D, Gerrard J, 'Academic Knowledge and Contemporary Poverty: The Politics of Homelessness Research', Sociology, 50 267-284 (2016) [C1]
© 2015, The Author(s) 2015. This article explores the field of homelessness research in relation to the dynamics of contemporary inequality and governmentality, arguing that the d... [more]
© 2015, The Author(s) 2015. This article explores the field of homelessness research in relation to the dynamics of contemporary inequality and governmentality, arguing that the dominant perspectives within this field have developed in ways that can converge with the demands of neoliberal governance. The article discusses the causal focus of much homelessness research, the emergence of the ¿orthodoxy¿ of homelessness research and new approaches emphasising subjectivity and arguing for a ¿culture of homelessness¿. We suggest that homelessness has been constructed as a discrete analytical object extraordinary to the social relations of contemporary inequality. The authority to represent homelessness legitimately has been constituted through positioning ¿the homeless¿ outside of a community of valorised and normatively legitimate subjectivities. The article concludes with reflections on an alternative politics of homelessness research that moves towards a critical engagement with the position of homelessness within the structural dynamics of late modernity.
Farrugia D, Smyth J, Harrison T, 'Affective Topologies of Rural Youth Embodiment', Sociologia Ruralis, 56 116-132 (2016) [C1]
© 2015 European Society for Rural Sociology. This article explores the affective, embodied dimensions of young rural people's relationship with space and place. Relationship ... [more]
© 2015 European Society for Rural Sociology. This article explores the affective, embodied dimensions of young rural people's relationship with space and place. Relationship with space and place has been recognised as a significant dimension of rural youths' subjectivities but it has been primarily understood through representational perspectives which focus on young people's perceptions, images, or discursive constructions of their local places. In contrast, this article draws on non-representational approaches to subjectivity and space to highlight the embodied, sensuous entanglements between young people's subjectivities and the spaces they have inhabited and experienced. Qualitative data gathered as part of a project exploring youths' subjectivities in regional Australia shows that young people's experience of their rural locale, as well as their relationship to the city, reflect an affective topology of relations of proximity and rhythmic tempo which emerges from the relationship between the space of their bodily hexis and the spaces and places they are situated within. These non-representational, embodied processes are intrinsic to rural youths' subjectivities and structure how young people approach and navigate their futures. © 2015 The Authors. Sociologia Ruralis
Farrugia D, Smyth J, Harrison T, 'Moral distinctions and structural inequality: Homeless youth salvaging the self', Sociological Review, 64 238-255 (2016) [C1]
© 2016 The Editorial Board of The Sociological Review. This paper explores the construction and contestation of moral distinctions as a dimension of contemporary structural inequa... [more]
© 2016 The Editorial Board of The Sociological Review. This paper explores the construction and contestation of moral distinctions as a dimension of contemporary structural inequality through a focus on the subjectivities constructed by young people who have experienced homelessness. Empirical material from two research projects shows that in young people's narratives of homelessness, material insecurity intertwines with the moral economies at work in neoliberal capitalist societies to construct homelessness as a state of moral disgrace, in which an ungovernable experience is experienced as a moral failure. When young people gain access to secure housing, the increasing stability and security of their lives is narrated in terms of a moral adherence to personal responsibility and disciplined conduct. Overall the paper describes an economy of worth organized around distinctions between order and chaos, self-governance and unruliness, morality and disgrace, which structures the experience of homelessness. As young people's position in relation to these moral ideals reflects the material conditions of their lives, their experiences demonstrate the way that moral hierarchies contribute to the existence and experience of structural inequalities in neoliberal capitalist societies.
Farrugia D, 'The mobility imperative for rural youth: the structural, symbolic and non-representational dimensions rural youth mobilities', Journal of Youth Studies, 19 836-851 (2016) [C1]
© 2015 Taylor & Francis. ABSTRACT: Mobilities of money, symbols and young people themselves are central to the formation of the contemporary youth period. While rural young ... [more]
© 2015 Taylor & Francis. ABSTRACT: Mobilities of money, symbols and young people themselves are central to the formation of the contemporary youth period. While rural young people remain marginal to theoretical development in youth studies, this paper shows that mobilities are especially significant for rural youth, who experience a kind of mobility imperative created by the accelerating concentration of economic and cultural capital in cities. Drawing on theory and evidence from contexts including Europe, Australia, Africa and South America, this paper explores the mobility imperative for rural youth and offers a new theoretical framework for understanding rural youth mobilities. The framework understands mobilities across three dimensions: the structural, the symbolic and the non-representational. These dimensions refer to material inequalities between rural and urban places in a global context; symbolic hierarchies that concentrate the resources for ¿youthfulness¿ in cities and the affective entanglements between embodied subjectivities and spaces that emerge as young people move. The paper shows how these dimensions interact in the production and experience of the mobility imperative, offering an ontological and theoretical platform for future research into rural youth mobilities.
Farrugia DM, Woodman D, 'Ultimate concerns in late modernity: Archer, Bourdieu and reflexivity', British Journal of Sociology, 66 626-644 (2015) [C1]
Farrugia D, 'Beside One's Self: Homelessness Felt and Lived', JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY, 50 387-389 (2014)
Farrugia D, 'Surviving Teenage Motherhood: Myths and Realities', INTERNATIONAL SOCIOLOGY, 27 280-282 (2012)
Farrugia D, 'Exploring stigma: Medical knowledge and the stigmatisation of parents of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder', Sociology of Health and Illness, 31 1011-1027 (2009)
This paper analyses 12 parent interviews to investigate the stigmatisation of parents of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Drawing on poststructural accounts of... [more]
This paper analyses 12 parent interviews to investigate the stigmatisation of parents of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Drawing on poststructural accounts of the relationship between knowledge and subjectivity, the stigma concept is critically interrogated in order to address previous individualistic constructions of stigmatisation and to place stigma within the power dynamics of social control. The results of the study indicate that a child's diagnosis with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is critical for parents to resist stigmatisation. Parents experienced considerable enacted stigma, but successfully resisted felt stigma by deploying medical knowledge to articulate unspoiled subject positions. The institutionalisation of medical knowledge within the autism community was critical to this process. Resistance to enacted stigma was successful to the degree that medical constructions of deviance deployed by parents were accepted by others, notably those in power within institutions. It is concluded that poststructural accounts of subjectivity and social control provide a useful way of conceptualising stigmatisation. An acceptance of the painful nature of stigma as lived experience co-exists with an emphasis on the constantly negotiated nature of embodied subjectivity as a contingent social process to illustrate the conditions for active resistance to stigmatisation. © 2009 Foundation for the Sociology of Health & Illness-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
|Show 29 more journal articles|
Conference (2 outputs)
Threadgold S, Coffey J, Farrugia D, 'Scenes, bar work and immaterial labour: The reflexive and ironic reproduction of class', Deakin University (2018)
Farrugia D, Threadgold SR, Coffey J, 'Affective Labour: Towards a New Research Agenda for Youth Studies.', Australian Catholic University. Nov 28 Dec 1. 2016. (2016)
Report (1 outputs)
Askland HH, Askew M, Hanley J, Sherval M, Farrugia D, Threadgold S, Coffey J, 'Local Attitudes to Changing Land Use - Narrabri Shire', NSW Departmment of Primary Industries, 113 (2016)
Number of supervisions
|Commenced||Level of Study||Research Title||Program||Supervisor Type|
|2020||PhD||Women Entrepreneurs in Enterprise Culture: Women’s Work-life Experiences of Entrepreneurship in the Newcastle and Hunter Region||PhD (Sociology & Anthropology), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle||Principal Supervisor|
|2017||PhD||Navigating the city and negotiating (un)employment: A study on the labouring subjectivities of Black African youth in Newcastle, Australia.||PhD (Sociology & Anthropology), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle||Principal Supervisor|
|2017||PhD||Table Top Gaming using Social Existential Theory||PhD (Sociology & Anthropology), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle||Co-Supervisor|
|Year||Level of Study||Research Title||Program||Supervisor Type|
|2019||PhD||Case Management in Youth Desistance: A Governmentality Approach||PhD (Sociology & Anthropology), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle||Co-Supervisor|
|2018||PhD||Grounding Globalities in the Cosmopolitan Practices of Youth||PhD (Education), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle||Co-Supervisor|
October 22, 2019
August 24, 2016
July 7, 2016
March 22, 2016
November 3, 2015