Holidays are coming; Independent professionals and the work Christmas party

David Cross

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Despite its obvious economic and social impact, the Christmas period as a regularly occurring festival and cluster of rituals is curiously absent from analysis as an occurrence of organisational importance. This research investigates invitation to and attendance at the Christmas party of clients for these independent consultants. These individuals exist in between organisations, clients and professions using their tacit knowledge and human capital to solve complex strategic problems for clients. Using thematic analysis of 30 semi-structured interviews with independent consultants and drawing on the literature on liminality, rituals and unintended consequences it makes impacts in three important ways. Firstly, the Christmas party is an important event that highlights and promotes the feelings of in-betweeness that is inherent in the liminal position these individuals occupy and how they organise to counter this. Secondly, it highlights the dual role of rituals at a legal and social level to include and exclude but unearths a tension between these roles. Moreover, this analysis demonstrates that our understanding of the Christmas party and wider organisational rituals may need to change as a result of changes to employment and work. Finally, the confusion over the legislation concerning these individuals is inherent in their participation in the and illustrates how something designed to tackle disguised employment and increase treasury receipts actually impacts attendance at what seems like a fairly harmless event; the work Christmas party.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 24 Nov 2016
Event4th Global Workshop on Freelancing & Self-Employment Research - Brighton Business School, Brighton, UK United Kingdom
Duration: 24 Nov 201625 Nov 2016


Workshop4th Global Workshop on Freelancing & Self-Employment Research
Country/TerritoryUK United Kingdom


  • Liminality
  • Christmas
  • Independent contractors


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