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Precarious Work
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-288-8

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Publication date: 14 March 2001

Steven P. Vallas

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The Transformation of Work
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-097-5

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Book part
Publication date: 15 October 2020

Martha Crowley, Julianne Payne and Earl Kennedy

Labor process research has documented a shift in the nature of control – from techniques that aim to limit worker discretion to consent-oriented controls that are believed…

Abstract

Labor process research has documented a shift in the nature of control – from techniques that aim to limit worker discretion to consent-oriented controls that are believed to generate greater effort by increasing intrinsic rewards or bonding employees to managers and/or the firm. Over the past several decades, however, growing pressure to increase profits has prompted firms to adopt cost-cutting strategies that have eroded job security, relationships with management and commitment to organizational goals. This study investigates how a changing labor process and rising job insecurity shape workers’ orientations toward work, managers and the firm, and in turn influence workplace behavior. Analyses of content-coded data on 212 work groups confirms that discretion-limiting controls (supervision, technology and rules) are associated with more negative orientations and/or reductions in effort (with variations across distinct forms of control), while investment in workers’ human capital (but not involvement of workers in decision-making) has the reverse effect – ­generating more positive orientations toward work, managers and the firm, and (in turn) promoting discretionary work effort and limiting covert effort restriction. Implications of insecurity are more complex. Both layoffs and temporary employment reduce commitment to the organization, but layoffs generate conflict with management without reducing effort, whereas temporary employment limits effort without producing conflict. We illuminate underlying processes with evidence from the qualitative case studies.

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Professional Work: Knowledge, Power and Social Inequalities
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80043-210-9

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Publication date: 5 February 2016

Steven P. Vallas

In recent years, scholars have engaged in an especially sharp debate about the structural and ideological arrangements on which business organizations rely in their effort…

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In recent years, scholars have engaged in an especially sharp debate about the structural and ideological arrangements on which business organizations rely in their effort to control the workers they employ. A key issue is the degree to which workers have retained the ability to resist such controls. In this chapter, I develop a critical analysis of the scholarly debate over domination and resistance at work, in an effort to clarify the tasks facing this field. My argument hinges on three major points. First, I argue that scholars have approached the control/resistance binary largely as a class relationship, thereby neglecting intersecting inequalities such as race, gender, and sexuality, which inevitably complicate or over-determine the forms that worker resistance assumes. Second, I argue that scholars have increasingly fixated on symbolic or discursive influences, privileging them at the expense of the material or structural conditions that shape managerial control and resistance to it. Third, I contend that much of the literature has failed to acknowledge the duality of managerial control – that is, its tendency not only to limit but also to enable resistance from below. These problems, taken together, explain why the debate has so often seemed to pursue a circuitous path, as if it were chasing its own tail. The chapter concludes by discussing the conditions that resistance presupposes, and by speculating about the emergence of novel forms of resistance that might be well suited to an age of flexible accumulation.

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A Gedenkschrift to Randy Hodson: Working with Dignity
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78560-727-1

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Book part
Publication date: 14 March 2001

Abstract

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The Transformation of Work
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-097-5

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Book part
Publication date: 15 October 2020

Abstract

Details

Professional Work: Knowledge, Power and Social Inequalities
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80043-210-9

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Book part
Publication date: 19 December 2017

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Precarious Work
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-288-8

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Book part
Publication date: 11 April 2005

Steven Peter Vallas

Despite two decades of discussion and debate, key issues regarding the transformation of work have remained highly uncertain, largely because of the limitations in the…

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Despite two decades of discussion and debate, key issues regarding the transformation of work have remained highly uncertain, largely because of the limitations in the theoretical frameworks with which team systems have been approached. In this paper, I draw loosely on my own fieldwork to articulate a series of propositions regarding features of the new managerial regimes that have remained only poorly explored. These center on the structural tensions and contradictions that team systems elicit, the contested and negotiated nature of the new regimes, and the complex interplay between the new work-systems and the identities that workers import from the old-managerial regimes. The paper suggests that the overarching concern with rates of diffusion and the performance effects of team systems should give way to more culturally nuanced approaches that can bring to light the divergent and often inherently contradictory forms the new regimes assume in an era marked by increasing demands for labor market flexibility.

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Worker Participation: Current Research and Future Trends
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-76231-202-3

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Book part
Publication date: 15 October 2020

Elisa Martínez, Laurel Smith-Doerr and Timothy Sacco

The erosion of autonomy in traditional professions has been explained by client capture – professionals increasingly work under close control of powerful corporate…

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The erosion of autonomy in traditional professions has been explained by client capture – professionals increasingly work under close control of powerful corporate clients. However, research is missing on how knowledge workers in rapidly rising knowledge professions of the twenty-first century experience and respond to the risk of client capture. Evaluation is one such exploding field. This study examines the narratives of professional evaluators to understand how they navigate their mandate to deliver independent assessments of complex social programs under the threat of client capture. Data come from 29 interviews with evaluators of 65 interdisciplinary graduate training projects funded by the US National Science Foundation in the first two years of the program (2015–2016). Evidence of client capture is found in how evaluators discuss scope creep with limited resources, being asked to misrepresent their findings, and burying of evaluation reports. The authors also find evidence of evaluators navigating client capture by rationing their labor, using state-based rules to mediate demands, drawing on professional expertise, and generating savvy emotional labor. But this study argues the client capture concept obscures the dynamics of knowledge production, in which evaluators shape scientific programs in innovative ways. This study sheds new light on the context in which inequalities operate in this emerging profession, and how the structure of knowledge work may generate novel pathways of professional influence where work conditions might otherwise rule against it.

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Professional Work: Knowledge, Power and Social Inequalities
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80043-210-9

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Research in the Sociology of Work
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-405-1

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