Life in Temporary and Scattered Work Practices
Edited by Torben Elgaard Jensen and Ann Westenholz
: studies of work and identity beyond the epochal Torben Elgaard Jensen and Ann Westenholz The nexus between identity and the organization of work life has been explored in a diverse array of social science traditions, from Weber’s link between bureaucracies and protestant ethics to Giddens’s link between disembedded, globalized institutions and self-reflexive identities. In the past decade, there has been a sharp increase in a particular kind of story about identity and work life. The story, told with increasing frequency, suggests that there has been a rupture with a more stable past; work life has changed quite dramatically, and the consequences for identity are only beginning to dawn on us. The story comes in various versions: • • • • • • It is argued that careers are becoming boundaryless as opposed to the bounded careers of earlier times. It is argued that lifelong employment will be replaced by ever more short-term employment, contracting, and freelancing. It is argued that working is increasingly about individual networking as opposed to the formalized and bureaucratic work organization of yesterday. It is argued that a pervasive scattering of communities is taking place as opposed to the more coherent and consistent communities of the past. It is argued that a new economy is superseding an old economy. In general, it is argued that organizations are becoming much more flexible and thus demanding much more flexibility of their members. What then, does this supposed rupture mean to identity? The disagreement in the social science literature and the popular press is considerable....