HomeDuration of activity and fragmentation of work

Duration of activity and fragmentation of work

Durée de l’activité et fragmentations du travail

Temporalités n°31, 2020/1

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Published on Friday, July 12, 2019 by Céline Guilleux

Summary

This special issue aims at exploring the consequences, from the point of view of work times and pace, of the way production systems have become dependent on networks, sometimes on an international scale, and the collateral disaggregation of workers’ careers. Both these phenomenons, well identified in sociological literature, tend to encourage multiple discontinuities affecting work spaces or workers’ lives. How, in this context, can the essential continuum of work activities be maintained in order to ensure production? Researchers’ input on this question is sought after for this issue.

Announcement

Guest Editors

Sylvie Célérier (Université de Lille, CLERSE) and Sylvie Monchatre (Université Lumière Lyon 2, Centre Max Weber)

Argument

This issue aims at exploring the consequences, from the point of view of work times and pace, of the way production systems have become dependent on networks, sometimes on an international scale, and the collateral disaggregation of workers’ careers. Both these phenomenons, well identified in sociological literature, tend to encourage multiple discontinuities affecting work spaces or workers’ lives. How, in this context, can the essential continuum of work activities be maintained in order to ensure production? Researchers’ input on this question is sought after for this issue. Several themes will benefit from specific and thorough exploration.

Continuum of work and discontinuity of space

The conditions should be explored in which work is extended outside traditional set work spaces, as in specific, reserved places in which work is unanimously subjected to a pace aimed at productivity. Research, especially that relevant to material feminism, has long been disputing the division between work and obligation-“free” “non-work”. Studies on the sexual division of labor and social relationships between genders have outlined how productive and “reproductive” work intertwine coherently, women being strongly assigned to the latter. While acknowledging these studies, one should not so much focus on reexamining the coherence and articulations between productive and domestic systems, than outline the circulations of workers between their different workplaces and timetables, may they be located in traditional work institutions (factories, offices, workshops, etc.) or in co-working zones, domestic or public (trains, planes, etc.) places.

A vast array of mobility devices enables new circulations in a context in which we would like to understand how the continuum of work can be ensured. Physically disattached from the traditional institutions controlling the actual doing of their work, how do workers carry on and develop their activity within these circulations? Which categories of workers are most affected and what sorts of space and time arrangements are made in order to do that? Is it about perpetuating the “office”, the “workshop”, the “common workroom”, or on the contrary, about creating new landmarks? What becomes of the work collective, how do technical solidarities emerge? Along what set of rules can work spaces be dematerialized or transformed?

We would also like to question the conditions in which workers can get involved, in a context of physical and temporal distance. How do employers or sponsors make sure they are available at the right time? If they are no longer physically within the company, what kind of institutional structures are liable to act as substitutes and host employees, self-employed workers, entrepreneurs, multi-employed workers, to do what? Are there any devices capable of keeping track of trips, tasks, or even jobs, transforming the way work is controlled, with no less thoroughness?

On this first aspect, one should research how the fragmentation of activity impacts work. For instance, to what extent are the skills, the handicraft, the shape of work in itself transformed, do they become less specialized when they get made in a new variety of spaces. Also, one should ask oneself how professional and nonprofessional times set their boundaries, while all areas of life seem to be conquered by work.

The transformation of the nature of work time

When traditional work spaces become disattached and social times colonized by work, how is work time measured and recorded? Is the hourly basis still relevant to figure out work time, in the sense that it enables the comparison between newly ambiguous work situations, due to the intercrossing with other social times? The question is of course also relevant for workers more or less voluntarily placed on autonomous statuses peripheral to their companies. It also concerns these same companies’ mobile employees. What sort of temporal regime(s) are they submitted to in their work? Is the extensive work regime usually associated with independent workers (long hours, large weekly span of working hours, big variations in timetables) extended to them, or do new patterns appear?

Increase in working hours and heterogeneity of production times

The growing extent of mobility in work makes sense in extensive and fragmented productive patterns, of which the automobile industry and its various supplying networks have given a first image. Today, to produce something increasingly amounts to coordinate heterogenous employees, skills, places, institutions, spaces and times. It also calls for the embedding of productive operations within a chain of operations which prepare or pursue activity, outside the institutional perimeter. In short, the time and space of production expands, its agents and institutions diversify, while the concern of productivity, that is to say of the reduction of socially necessary time, applies everywhere.

We wish here to trace the effects of the tension that exists between the expanding of production time along a chain of varied operations, and the reduction of the socially necessary time for each of these operations. It could well be that the capitalist logic looking to reduce production time only brings it, on the contrary, to increase considerably. One should therefore question the prescriptions, evaluations and more generally the normalization processes of activity prevailing in this fragmented work system, and how they are decided, be it through arbitration, negotiation or conflict. The quality/opacity of manufacturing is another question on which the food industry (and the food crises it faces on a regular basis) gives some insight. Is an increase in normalization to be witnessed, decided by whom and applicable at what levels? What are the new sources of concern to be suspected?

Submission of proposals for articles

Authors are invited to take notice of our editorial board, procedures and instructions.

Authors may submit their proposals to the huest editors of the issue, Sylvie Célérier (sylvie.celerier@univ-lille.fr) and Sylvie Monchatre (sylvie.monchatre@univ-lyon2.fr) copying the editorial office of the review (temporalites@revues.org).

The submission should include a title, a 5000-character maximum abstract in French or English, the name, contact details and institutional affiliation of the author, and should be sent up

to 15 September 2019.

Planning and deadlines

  • Submission of proposals (abstract comprising 5000 characters maximum): 15 September 2019

  • Reply from coordinators by the end of September 2019
  • Submission of papers (50,000 characters maximum): 15th December 2019
  • Feedback: 31st January 2020
  • Submission of revised version: 31st March 2020
  • Submission of final version: 30th June 2020
  • Publication: September 2020

Date(s)

  • Sunday, September 15, 2019

Keywords

  • travail, fragmentation, temps, durée

Contact(s)

  • Sylvie Célérier
    courriel : sylvie [dot] celerier [at] univ-lille [dot] fr
  • Sylvie Montchatre
    courriel : sylvie [dot] monchatre [at] univ-lyon2 [dot] fr

Information source

  • François Théron
    courriel : francois [dot] theron [at] uvsq [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Duration of activity and fragmentation of work », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, July 12, 2019, https://calenda.org/650435

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