Review of Virginia Doellgast, Disintegrating Democracy at Work: Labor Unions and the Future of Good Jobs in the Service Economy

Administrative Science Quarterly 58(1):152-154, 2013

5 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2013

See all articles by Frank Dobbin

Frank Dobbin

Harvard University - Department of Sociology

Date Written: June 14, 2013

Abstract

Determined to figure out whether there is any hope for service-sector workers caught in the downward spiral of deskilling, declining wages, deunionization, outsourcing, and job insecurity, Virginia Doellgast examines a workplace that exemplifies these trends, the call center. Her intensive study of matched pairs of call centers in Germany and the U.S., based on observation, archival documents, and some 300 interviews, shows that the situation is bleak, but not quite as bleak as the title, Disintegrating Democracy at Work, might suggest. She concludes by sketching a way forward, toward a utopian world in which call-center workers are self-managed, highly skilled members of strong unions who enjoy job security and high wages. That system can be self-reinforcing, for it saves training and turnover costs, and by ensuring high-quality service, offers firms competitive advantages. The system can still be found in some German and U.S. telecom call centers.

Suggested Citation

Dobbin, Frank, Review of Virginia Doellgast, Disintegrating Democracy at Work: Labor Unions and the Future of Good Jobs in the Service Economy (June 14, 2013). Administrative Science Quarterly 58(1):152-154, 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2279497

Frank Dobbin (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Sociology ( email )

33 Kirkland Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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