Degraded work

The struggle at the bottom of the labor market

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract

Critics on the left and the right typically agree that globalization, the loss of manufacturing jobs, and the expansion of the service sector have led to income inequality and rising numbers of low-paying jobs with poor working conditions. In Degraded Work, Marc Doussard demonstrates that this decline in wages and working conditions is anything but the unavoidable result of competitive economic forces. Rather, he makes the case that service sector and other local-serving employers have boosted profit with innovative practices to exploit workers, demeaning their jobs in new ways—denying safety equipment, fining workers for taking scheduled breaks, requiring unpaid overtime—that go far beyond wage cuts. Doussard asserts that the degradation of service work is a choice rather than an inevitability, and he outlines concrete steps that can be taken to help establish a fairer postindustrial labor market. Drawing on fieldwork in Chicago, Degraded Work examines changes in two industries in which inferior job quality is assumed to be intrinsic: Residential construction and food retail. In both cases, Doussard shows how employers degraded working conditions as part of a successful and intricate strategy to increase profits. Arguing that a growing service sector does not have to mean growing inequality, Doussard proposes creative policy and organizing opportunities that workers and advocates can use to improve job quality despite the overwhelming barriers to national political action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherUniversity of Minnesota Press
Number of pages276
ISBN (Electronic)9780816685639
ISBN (Print)9780816681396
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

Fingerprint

labor market
tertiary sector
working conditions
worker
wage
employer
profit
service work
political action
critic
manufacturing
Service sector
Working conditions
Workers
Labour market
globalization
food
income
industry
Profit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)

Cite this

Degraded work : The struggle at the bottom of the labor market. / Doussard, Marc J.

University of Minnesota Press, 2013. 276 p.

Research output: Book/ReportBook

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