Crossing the Great Divide: Worker Risk and Opportunity in the New Economy

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Cornell University Press, 2002 - Business & Economics - 240 pages
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The 1990s were years of turmoil and transformation in American work experiences and employment relationships. Trends including the growth of contingent labor, the erosion of the stable employment contract, the restructuring of jobs and companies, and the emergence of opportunity-enhancing employee participation programs reconfigured occupations, career paths, and labor market opportunities. Vicki Smith analyzes this shift, asking how workers navigated their way across the divide between bad jobs and good jobs, between jobs organized hierarchically and jobs requiring greater worker involvement, and between temporary and stable work.Crossing the Great Divide uses original case study data from four diverse organizational settings around the country. Smith compares the situations of nonunionized, white-collar workers at a photocopy service firm; unionized blue-collar workers in a wood-products processing factory; temporary assemblers and clerical workers in a high-tech firm; and unemployed managers, technical workers, and professionals participating in a job search club. The very different experiences revealed in Crossing the Great Divide highlight the way diverse new relationships between companies and their employees play out in workplaces, where new forms of work organization simultaneously create opportunity, instability, and risk for workers. Smith's goal is to construct a new framework of employment that accommodates the unpredictability and turbulence of the 21st century, but that is also "characterized at its core by attachment, reward, protection, commitment, and dignity."

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Crossing the great divide: worker risk and opportunity in the new economy

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This timely book by Smith (sociology, Univ. of California, Davis; Managing in the Corporate Interest) looks at the vicissitudes of work today caused by "downsizing, restructuring, the increased use ... Read full review


Work and Employment at the Turn of the Century
Reproco Creating Flexibly Specialized Service Workers
WoodWorkers for Life? Reconstructing Endangered Workers as Involved Participants
Id Work Forever as a Temporary Worker at CompTech Temporary Work Attachment and Aspirations
Structural Unemployment and the Reconstruction of the Self in the Turbulent Economy
Crossing the Great Divide Negotiating Uncertainty Risk and Opportunity

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About the author (2002)

Vicki Smith is Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Davis. She is the author of Crossing the Great Divide and Managing in the Corporate Interest and coauthor of The Good Temp .

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