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
Subjects: Business, Political Science, Sociology
Table of Contents
You are viewing the table of contents
You do not have access to this
on JSTOR. Try logging in through your institution for access.