Integrating the Individual and Community: The power of equality and self-chosen labor

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Virginia Tech

Modern work has been proven to compartmentalize the life of the individual. One must look no further than semantics to realize the discontinuity between "work" and "home," for the segmented nature of these two states of being becomes apparent the moment that they are juxtaposed.  Historically, it has been argued that the tension between industrial/post-industrial labor and some kind of natural state of existence in which an individual can pursue her own destiny is both deeply rooted in the flowering of modernity and seems to be accepted as unavoidable. In this thesis, I present a case study where this tension is almost entirely put aside. In my analysis of Twin Oaks Community, an intentional community located in central Virginia, I show how modern labor organization can be deliberately cultivated to reconsider the relationship between a laborer and her work, and that a work/life balance is not necessary when all forms of work are valued. Results of a participant observation study performed at Twin Oaks, as well as reliance on theory and sociological studies indicate the ways in which Twin Oaks marries life and work in the pursuit of building community. This study will prove that Twin Oaks Community's labor organization, valuing of labor from all epochs (pre-industrial, industrial, and post-industrial), and overarching communitarian goals help to reunite the laborer with her natural life-activity.

social organization, intentional community, sociology of work, labor relations