ساخت اجتماعی بخش خدمات: ساختارهای نهادی و نتایج بازار کار
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|16051||2004||12 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Geoforum, Volume 35, Issue 1, January 2004, Pages 23–34
I argue that the characterisation of the lower end of the service sector as innately poorly paid, casualised and unorganised confuses cause and effect. It describes the effects of an institutional vacuum that allows this sector to suffer severe wage competition, which results in low wages and poor working conditions. There is nothing innate in the lower end of the service sector that makes these jobs poorly paid except the lack of institutions, such as unions and the state, structuring this segment of the labour market. Pay and working conditions vary within the sector and between specific locations, and depend on institutions, or the lack of institutions, to structure the local labour market. I use the case of hotel employees and restaurant employees in Las Vegas to show that not only can high union densities affect wages and other measurable benefits but a strategically unionised labour market also can transform the structure of the labour market itself.
It is almost a truism within geography today to say that institutions matter. As part of this institutionalist approach, economic geographers have carefully analysed the role of the state, the firm, and labour unions in their numerous guises. Despite this attention, our theories on labour organisations remain underdeveloped. Despite some groundbreaking scholarship on organised labour (Clark, 1989; Herod, 1998; Martin et al., 1996; Wills, 2001), only a few economic geographers who “specialise in labour” have paid much attention to the role of worker voice in the wider economy (see Savage, 1998; Tufts, 1998; Walsh, 2000; Wills, 2001). For example, in a recent collection of 70 classic articles on the service sector (Bryson and Daniels, 1998) there is almost a complete silence about the complex ways in which the service sector labour market is structured institutionally.1 This partitioning of the field has weakened economic geography’s analysis of labour and of the wider economy. Perhaps most importantly, it has led geographers to misconceptualise some of the major structural changes in the economy, such as the rise of the service sector, and ignore or misinterpret the political consequences of these changes. The decline of manufacturing and the growth of the service sector continue to be two of the most fundamental changes in the economies of all industrialised countries in the last quarter century. The service sector now comprises roughly two-thirds of the economy of countries such as the United States, Japan, and most of Europe (OECD, 1999) and is comprised of both high-skilled, high-wage and low-skilled, low-wage segments. The low-wage segment of the service sector is usually characterised as an ill-paid, casualised sector of the economy whose growth has promoted severe social polarisation (Fainstein et al., 1992; Mollenkopf and Castells, 1991; Sassen, 1991). In contrast, I argue that this characterisation of the lower end of the service sector as innately poorly paid, casualised and unorganised confuses cause and effect. It describes the effects of an institutional vacuum that allows this sector to suffer severe wage competition, which results in low wages and poor working conditions. There is nothing innate in the lower end of the service sector that makes these jobs poorly paid except the lack of institutions, such as unions and the state, structuring this segment of the labour market. Pay and working conditions are not a simple function of industry type––of course much of the lower end of the service sector is poorly paid, as are parts of the manufacturing sector. Instead, pay and working conditions vary within the sector and between specific locations, and depend on institutions, or the lack of institutions, to structure the local labour market. As such, this paper argues that the current broad characterisation of the lower end of the service sector as poorly paid, casualised and unorganised is partly a social construction––and that recognition of this is important for theory-building, public debate and social policy. The basic argument of this paper is that whether the service sector produces good or bad jobs is not an inherent characteristic of the sector, but rather a consequence of how this portion of the labour market is institutionally structured in a specific place. The structure of the labour market depends on public policies involving fair labour practices and immigration and, critically, the organisation of workers. First, this paper will address the nature of the service sector and the misconceptions surrounding the low-wage service sector, emphasising the extent to which geographers have naturalised the poor pay and conditions found in this part of the sector by ignoring the institutional context. Secondly, the paper will examine efforts by the hotel employees and restaurant employees (HERE) in the US to unionise the “hospitality” sector and to structure the labour market through institutional innovations.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
While economic geographers have carefully analysed unionisation and deunionisation in the manufacturing sector, less attention has been paid to worker mobilisation in the lower end of the service sector. Jobs in the lower end of the service sector are often portrayed as innately “bad” jobs––jobs that are unstable, have low pay, and poor working conditions. However, I argue that these job traits are not pre-existing, but socially constructed. By portraying them as innate we take away the ability to respond to and change these traits. However, a whole variety of institutions structure the local labour market for each sector and determine the quality of jobs produced. For example, the local government can play an important role in setting limits to firms’ behaviour by pursuing local living wage requirements, minimum wage laws, and tying economic development subsidies to firm behaviour. Likewise, unions can transform a local market by changing the market rules and taking wages out of competition. This is particularly effective when the union can organise much of the sector by region. Although rarely highlighted, lower-end services, as with manufacturing, can produce decent wages and working conditions when unionised. Although the lower end of the service sector has long been seen as a poor choice for union organising drives, this ignores the fact that in some respects the service sector is an ideal candidate. Although a largely immigrant and part-time workforce that is scattered among many worksites can be difficult to organise, the sector also has some characteristics that make it a particularly good candidate for union organising. Unlike manufacturing, much of the lower-wage service sector is firmly anchored in place. Global competition does not affect retailing, child-care, janitors, or hotel maids. In fact, Herzenberg et al. (1998) estimate that only 10% of jobs in the service sector are directly exposed to international competition. In general, these jobs are tied to population centres or to tourist destinations and will not move offshore should employees unionise. Employers do not have the option of leaving or choosing a location with a more docile labour force. This helps explain the successes of campaigns in the lower end of the service sector, such as the Justice for Janitors campaign. Rather than dismissing jobs in the lower-end service sector as inherently “bad”, we should understand that whether a sector produces good or bad jobs depends on how it is structured in a specific location. Despite declining union membership, worker mobilisation in an industry remains the most effective way to structure that specific labour market. The key to maintenance of labour standards in lower-end services is the development of trade unionism among lower-end service workers. HERE’s success in organising suggests that Cobble’s argument about a restructured “occupational unionism” or Wial’s call for a “geographical/occupational unionism” may indeed be a solution, at least in parts of the service sector labour market. It also suggests that academics need to continue to reconceptualise how unions and other labour market intermediaries shape, and are shaped by, local labour market conditions particularly in the rapidly growing service industries. The debate is not solely an academic one, but has important policy implications as well. Issues such as income inequality, work-place democracy, worker voice and satisfaction, and the future of the labour movement itself are all interlinked with how we view and study the lower end of the service sector. Portraying the low wages and poor working conditions in the lower end of the service sector as natural encourages many to think of these industries as “unorganisable.” It also effects the range of possibilities that policy makers will seriously consider. Although many jobs in the lower-end service sector conform to expected low standards, it is all the more important to remember that we can structure these labour markets in different ways. Institutions do matter.