Hi OOW members! Today we’re sharing a new publication from Cristina Silva, Michelle Newton-Francis and Salvador Vidal-Ortiz:
Citation: Silva, Cristina, Michelle Newton-Francis, and Salvador Vidal-Ortiz. 2022. “Negotiating Racialized Organizational Spaces and Intimacies: An Ethnography of Playpen Strip Club.” Gender, Work & Organization: 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12882.
Based on 18 months of ethnographic research in a Northeast corridor strip club we call Playpen, we engage sex negotiations, erotic service exchanges, and the circulation of desire within an informal, weekly “Latina Night” event. We treat Playpen as a gendered and racialized organization in which patrons, dancers, and employees manage established, yet unspoken rules. Labor interactions and dynamics between dancers and clients are racialized when gesturing toward bodily currency – which materializes in tips, drinks, paid lap dances, and more exclusive attention; dancers compete for such currency, using their selection of music and dance, movements, adornments, body modifications and emotional labor. Selected pairings negotiate open spaces by turning pockets of the club into semi-private, intimate ones. Dancers’ and clients’ gendered and racialized notions of currency (in this case, racialized Latinidad) clash, ultimately serving the club in keeping “Latina Night” in place.
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Inspired to share news of this new paper too.–Steven Vallas
Prime Suspect: Mechanisms of Labor Control at Amazon’s Warehouses
Citation: Vallas SP, Johnston H, Mommadova Y. 2022. “Prime Suspect: Mechanisms of Labor Control at Amazon’s Warehouses.” Work and Occupations. June. doi:10.1177/07308884221106922https://doi.org/10.1177/07308884221106922
What mechanisms has Amazon deployed in its effort to control the labor of its warehouse employees? This question holds both practical and theoretical interest, given Amazon’s prominent position in the economy and the wider importance of the logistics sector for consumer capitalism. This paper, part of a broader mixed-methods study of Amazon’s workplace regime, uses a small national sample of interviews with Amazon warehouse workers (N = 46) to identify the mechanisms of labor control the company invokes. In keeping with accounts propounded by activists and journalists, we find evidence of highly coercive labor controls, chiefly in the form of what we call techno-economic despotism (which applies algorithmic technology to a precariously employed workforce). Yet many workers also experience forms of labor control that rely not on coercion but on the generation of consent. We identify three such mechanisms of hegemonic labor control – normative, relational, and governmental – that Amazon uses to foster workers’ consent. The efficacy of Amazon’s workplace regime stems largely from its ability to deploy a multiplicity of labor controls that resonate with different groups holding distinct positions in the labor process. Given shifts in the social and economic conditions that bear on the company’s regime, cracks have begun to appear in Amazon’s armor, potentially reducing the traction its labor control mechanisms have gained with segments of its employees.