The myth of the calling obscures the role of architectural support staff and encourages architects to surrender their workers’ rights.
It stands in the way of solidarity between all architectural workers.
The axiom of ‘calling’ culturally classifies architects as artists, in a social sense, while downplaying the practical nature of designing buildings. Though architecture is a profession in the industrial sense — its practitioners must register with official bodies in order to claim the title ‘Architect’ and to sign off on building plans — the calling we investigate here suggests that architecture is also a profession in a more ideological, social or perhaps even spiritual sense; a ‘declaration of acceptance in a faith.’ Faith that, despite paying upwards of £100,000 for an architectural education in the UK and ‘probably never [making] £100,000 [a year],’ practicing as an architect will bring a degree of creative satisfaction that makes the financial compromise worthwhile. After all, it’s not work if you’re doing what you love.1
This maxim, suggesting individual effort doesn’t count if it’s enjoyable, runs into trouble in the context of a business. Architecture firms are comprised of many more types of employees than architects alone.
- 1. Some architects, brainwashed by the ‘calling’, even reinforce and reproduce these barriers by belittling the work of non-architects, unable to understand what non-architects do or why they even work in an architecture firm. Overhead workers receive confused questions from architects over and over: ‘How did you get here? What did you study?’ Responding that ‘it’s a job’ almost hurts their feelings, coming dangerously close to puncturing the myth of the calling.