In this article, I examine the specifics of a workspace in one of the Christian Orthodox organizations in Russia. The sisterhood which I analyze represents the interlacement of religious and economic discourses in the workplace. I discuss the “commodification” of piety which is seen as a professional competency in the labour relations among Orthodox Christians. It is true about the sisterhood, where being “inchurched” is one of the main filters for potential employees. I examine the “politics of labour” in the sisterhood through the analysis of its heterogeneous spatial composition and point at the differences between its spaces in their work tempo, prestige, and working conditions. Alongside economic goals, the sisterhood is aimed at missionary and educational work; however, commercial relations are often described using religious terminology. I discuss the conflict between religious and economic aims of work. Particular attention is given to the analysis of techniques that help to maintain discipline in the sisterhood. It is achieved through rational organization of labour, observability of the workplace, hierarchy in employer-employee relationships, and the disciplining of body and emotions. The analysis is based on the materials of participant observation and field materials collected during my four months as a staff member of the sisterhood.
This article discusses the issue of labour discipline in a Christian Orthodox organisation in Russia. The sisterhood which I analyse is the meeting point of two types of ‘work’: the ‘secular work’ of employed workers is embedded into the ‘religious work’ of the sisters who live a monastic life. I argue that the religious–economic mix of the sisterhood suggests that three employment models are evident: ‘work more, get less’, ‘work less, get more’ and ‘work for free’. Religious and economic spheres are mediated by labour which takes different forms, creating distinct, but related disciplinary labour spaces. I thread the concept of discipline through religious and economic discourses in the monastic workplace, the conflicts between the religious and economic motivations to work and the role of ‘emotional work’. The analysis is based on the participant observation, conducted over a period of four months while I was a staff member of the sisterhood.