Waiting for Work : An Ethnography of a Day Labor Agency

  • Purser G
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This paper addresses the shifting temporal dimensions of work brought about by the flexibilization of employment. Drawing upon ethnographic fieldwork in a corporate day labor agency located in a West Coast city, I examine the way in which uncertainty is both produced and experienced in an effort to analyze the mode of domination captured by Bourdieu’s concept of “flexploitation.” Specifically, I examine the organization of the hiring and job allocation process, workers’ experience and understanding of this temporally uncertain employment relationship, and the way in which management manipulates this temporal experience as a technique of labor control. I argue that the enforced waiting period that is endemic in this industry is not only a strategy of externalizing risk (through “time funneling”) but of manufacturing a reserve army of labor that is highly disciplined.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Bourdieu
  • West Coast City
  • agence de placement
  • agence de placement (impacts négatifs sur les trav
  • attente
  • disponibilité
  • domination
  • flexibilité
  • flexploitation
  • temps de travail
  • travail atypique
  • travail temporaire
  • États-Unis

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  • Gretchen Purser

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