Saturday, October 23, 2004

temps questions

I guess I must watch too many movies related to information and labor - anyone seen Haiku Tunnel, in which a white man in his 20s performs temporary clerical duties (sort of), works on writing his novel on the job, and finds he doesn't want to "go 'perm?'" And who are his clerical co-workers? Two young white women and a gay man.

1. Could we talk some more about the implications of 'doing' gender on the job? I don't disagree with Krasas Rogers that this happens, but the concept is introduced rather abruptly. If a gay Asian man is, in fact, 'doing' white heterosexual femininity to secure better placements, I'd like to know a little more about the how's and why's of that. Or is that necessarily the kind of gender he's 'doing?'

2. In contingent labor and 'three party' employment structures, how can the worker become more empowered and more in control?

3. I think this can be looked at both as labor that is temporary (and everything that entails) and labor that is... well... pimped out. There are two sets of issues going on. People who work for a company like Merry Maids have as much in common with clerical temps as do the temporary attorneys, just from a different perspective. What additional conclusions would be reached by analyzing temporary labor from the 'contracted out' angle and comparing it to other employees in that position?

4. Is this 'three party' employment structure more likely to occur when the labor pool in question is predominantly female?

Friday, October 22, 2004

LT questions about Temps

1. Is not eliminating temporary employment a desirable societal goal? Is it achievable? Or do we buy the notion that the state of the economy makes temporary employment an inevitable component of the contemporary labor market?

2. Are lawyers, who as portrayed in Temps have less social control on their economic activity than wandering samurai, a good representation of the reality of professional employment? Consider physicians, dentists, architects, and artists, in addition to the book examples of engineers and computer programmers.

3. How do the conditions of private agency supplied temporary clerical work compare to those of project and limited-term (indefinite part-time) employment in Wisconsin state government?

HP, IBM, Dell set `code' for treatment of workers (

In January, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, a non-profit organization based in the United Kingdom, issued a report stating that workers who make computer components for IBM, Dell and HP in Mexico, China and Thailand are suffering ``atrocious conditions for extremely low pay.''

Read the whole article at: | 10/21/2004 | HP, IBM, Dell set `code' for treatment of workers

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Questions, Temps

  1. Is there any way to consciousness-raise (sorry about the verb) the agency owners and managers so that they give more weight to the needs and concerns of workers?

  2. How has the temporary-labor industry reacted to the negative attention it has gotten in the research?

  3. Can information help the temporary worker? What information? And how does one reach them with it?

Monday, October 18, 2004

Pass the Prozac

What a depressing set of readings!

1. This question is for anyone who feels qualified to answer it (really, it isn't meant to be gender-determinate). How/why is it that complete devotion to the machine and its workings is seen by these undergrad male computer science majors as normal? At what point and in what type of environment does such a life (one that I would consider grossly unbalanced) become normalized?

2. Same article as above - This study was conducted in the late 90's. Does anyone know if there has been a follow up study? I guess my question is, do we know or do we think that the changes the university instituted helped alleviate the problem?

3. Tympas is critical of Light's focus on intellectual work, but Light does mention that the women are crawling around the machine looking for things that they need to fix/adjust/etc. To me, this did seem to indicate that she acknowledged the manual labor aspect of the job. I guess my point/question is, as much as manual labor seems to be gendered masculine, there are occupations that involve physical labor that are gendered female - occupations such as nursing. Is this because of the nature of the physical labor? Does this occur when the labor seems repetitive, boring, or odious for some other reason?

Sunday, October 17, 2004

October 18 questions

1. According to the Light and Margolis, Fischer and Miller articles women have been getting the short end of the stick in terms of the technology sector, at both the beginning and the end of the century. Do you agree? If so, why have women been adversely marginalized and stereotyped in regards to technology labor when in other societal aspects women have made some relative progress over the last century?

2. Is the tendency to discuss a machine's impact/importance over invisible human labor merely a result of ingrained capitalist and economic measurement? Would this help to explain why labor can become invisible, particularly in terms of technology?

3. Why do you think that women's lower confidence and self-comparison to male counterparts is so high in computer science, according to the article? Did Light pinpoint some defining moment in the history of technology that society has not found its way out of yet?

A question that goes back to last week's discussion. How important is the geography of Orr's study being located in Silicon Valley in his results? Would this same "community of technicians" be plausable anywhere, how about someplace in the Midwest region, besides the few large cities like Chicago or Milwaukee?