Towards an Anthropology of Globalization
Edited by Subhabrata Bobby Banerjee, Vanessa C.M. Chio and Raza Mir
Chapter 7: Flexible Careers in a Globally Flexible Market
7. Flexible careers in a globally ﬂexible market Suzette Dyer INTRODUCTION The development and implementation of organization and labour ﬂexibilities in the 1980s transformed the structure, nature and composition of paid employment. By the end of the 1980s and throughout the 1990s, these ﬂexibilities were being theoretically and practically embedded in two emerging, yet quite distinct, discourses of globalization and of career management and development. These discourses share certain liberal assumptions about freedom and individuality and converge in the metaphoric space of organization. Collectively they capture, describe, endorse and prescribe changes to global political, economic and sociocultural arrangements, the nature and composition of paid employment, and what it means to have a career. Proponents of liberalization argue that this socioeconomic and political framework improves business proﬁt, social wellbeing and personal choice. Critics point to disparate outcomes associated with workplace change and the extension of liberalization through globalization with the beneﬁts accruing to particular powerful elites. In this chapter I argue that the three discourses of globalization, organizational and labour ﬂexibility and career represent macro, meso, and micro level aspects of the extension of neo-liberalism as an organizing principle for all aspects of life. My focus in this chapter is on the disciplinary function of career management and development within this framework. My argument is presented in four sections. In the next section, the disciplinary analysis oﬀered by Foucault (1977), Rose (1990) and Deetz (1992) is brieﬂy reviewed. Their combined work helps make visible links between the...
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