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Stormarknadens nya maktordningar

Från kassörskor och butikschefer till (o) demokratiska arbetslag

Elin Kvist

Umeå universitet 2006, 200 s. ISBN 9172640847
Bogomtale fra forlaget.

The empirical basis of this thesis is made up of interviews with men and women working at a supermarket, both with and without managerial responsibilities. The supermarket is an example of a working place where they use modern information technologies, and where there have been reorganisations pointing towards more flexibility, lesser hierarchies and higher autonomy for the workers. Such a working place is therefore a good example of an organisation on the new labour market.
The aim of this thesis is to study how everyday work is affected by the new labour market’s working conditions and to relate these findings to established theories on society’s transformations. Four concepts are in focus; technology,flexibility, hierarchy and control. These are often emphasised as important in the debate on changed work organisations. According to the post industrial and information society perspective, knowledge and technology will play an important role on today’s labour market.
The development of technology and knowledge at the supermarket points in many different directions at the same time. They use technology on a daily basis. The work rotation has raised the qualification levels for some of the employees, but at the same time others feel that the more qualified parts of their work are moved away from them, into computer systems or to a national level. The development of work rotation and partly self-governing work teams has given the employees more control over their everyday work but at the same time their resources are limited. They can decide when to do a task, but are often understaffed and have too many jobs to do. The work tasks are often heavy; the tempo is high, often with high noise.The work situation appears in many ways more industrial than service oriented. Workers are controlled through hierarchy but also by group norms, information technology, customers and by service-mindedness. The control mechanism has become more diverse, diffuse and harder to recognise. The changed work situation can be seen as two-fold. On the one hand there has been a humanisation of work, more autonomy, more opportunities to develop and many more interesting work tasks but on the other hand work density has risen while personnel resources have stayed the same in spite of increased opening hours and lager turnovers. The supermarket employees identify with their work tasks and take great responsibility for the work, even if their work conditions are hard. The work conditions that are now emphasised as flexible have long been the everyday reality for many employees, above all for many women in retail. Now these flexible work conditions have come to include both men and women in the working classes.