Despotism on Demand
How Power Operates in the Flexible Workplace
Published by: Cornell University Press
192 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 mm, 1 chart
- ISBN: 9781501748882
- Published: May 2020
Despotism on Demand draws attention to the impact of flexible scheduling on managerial power and workplace control. When we understand paid work as a power relationship, argues Alex J. Wood, we see how the spread of precarious scheduling constitutes flexible despotism; a novel regime of control within the workplace.
Wood believes that flexible despotism represents a new domain of inequality, in which the postindustrial working class increasingly suffers a scheduling nightmare. By investigating two of the largest retailers in the world he uncovers how control in the contemporary "flexible firm" is achieved through the insidious combination of "flexible discipline" and "schedule gifts." Flexible discipline provides managers with an arbitrary means by which to punish workers, but flexible scheduling also requires workers to actively win favor with managers in order to receive "schedule gifts": more or better hours. Wood concludes that the centrality of precarious scheduling to control means that for those at the bottom of the postindustrial labor market the future of work will increasingly be one of flexible despotism.
Flexible Despotism: An Introduction
Power at Work
1. Internal States in the UK
2. Internal States in the U.S.
The Despotism of Time
3. Despotic Time in the UK: Overcoming Hegemonic Constraints
4. Despotic Time in the U.S.: Undermining Worker Organization
The Dynamics of Work and Spaces of Resistance
5. The Dynamics of Work and Scheduling Gifts
6. Limits of Control and Spaces of Resistance
Conclusions: Control in the Twenty-First Century
"Despotism on Demand comes with the well-deserved praise of two seminal scholars in the field of industrial sociology. Wood presents an exquisite study of today's flexible workplace."~The Marx and Philosophy Review of Books
"This is an eminently readable, well-written book."~New Technology, Work, and Employment
"This important book adds significantly to the ongoing debate on the changing features of Carter Goodrich's "frontier of control". Drawing upon participant research undertaken in 2013 in and around supermarkets in North London, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, Alex Wood explores the details of power relations facing the "post-industrial working class"."~ILR Review