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Five books related to power and inequality at work [reading list]

What is it like to work in the 21st century? Which factors influence our careers? Are there equal opportunities in society today?

With a focus on technological advancements, both at home and at work, is reliance on technology beneficial for both employees and employers? Are workplaces using technology to exercise greater levels of control? Will the recent global experiment in working from home, made necessary by COVID-19 and possible by technology, encourage a cultural movement where employees seek greater flexibility?

Explore our reading list featuring chapters that feed into these timely discussions:

  1. Television at Work: Industrial Media and American Labor by Kit Hughes
    This book examines how workplaces in the United States utilised television to achieve efficiency and control over the 20th century workforce. Read this chapter to learn how companies used private satellite networks to manage distributed workforces amidst the rise of globalisation.
  2. Come Out, Come Out, Whoever You Are by Abigail C. Saguy
    This book explores how “coming out” has expanded from the LGBTQ+ movement to the fat acceptance movement, the undocumented immigrant youth movement, the plural-marriage family movement among Mormon fundamentalist polygamists, and the #MeToo movement. Read one chapter to discover the origin of the term “coming out.”
  3. Feminist Trouble: Intersectional Politics in Post-Secular Times by Éléonore Lépinard
    This book provides a critical exploration of feminism considering the divisions that exist within the movement. The author suggests that the future of feminism should focus on a feminist ethic of responsibility which reckons with power inequalities. Read a chapter to learn how the Islamic veiling debates were comparatively received in Quebec and France.
  4. Privilege Lost: Who Leaves the Upper Middle Class and How They Fall by Jessi Streib
    This book tracks the lives of over 100 Americans who were born into the upper-middle class as they progress from adolescence to young adulthood. This enables an analysis of how downward mobility occurs within this group, who it affects, and why it was not foreseen. Read one chapter to discover why only around half of those born into the upper-middle class retain this position in adulthood. The author discusses how a wealth of human, cultural, and economic capital can enable people to form a professional identity focused on maintaining their positions.
  5. Digital Domesticity: Media, Materiality, and Home Life by Jenny Kennedy, Michael Arnold, Martin Gibbs, Bjorn Nansen, and Rowan Wilken
    This book considers how, throughout the 21st century, technology has permeated our homes. The authors trace the life cycle of domestic technology, from adoption, to use, and then disposal, by studying original cases of people and their families. Read a chapter that focuses on the significant work required to maintain technology at home. The chapter delves into who conducts this work and the relationship between power, authority, gender, and expertise when making domestic technology decisions.

These chapters provide context to aid the discussion on 21st century working. Consider how you have experienced power, inequality, and resistance at work.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Adeolu Eletu via Unsplash

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