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Exploring Flexibility - A Study of Cleaning Work in Sweden

Krifors, Karin LU (2009) SIMT21 20082
Graduate School
Master of Science in Social Studies of Gender
Abstract
In this thesis I have attempted to explore flexibility of work outside the sectors which are most often associated with the concept of flexibility in ‘the new economy’, e.g. work in ICT-sectors. Through a case study of cleaners and cleaning work in Sweden I have attempted to discuss both how flexibility is represented and how consequences of flexibility can be understood in relation to experiences of cleaning work. The thesis explores different aspects of flexibility, mainly in relation to the work process but also flexible time, space and employment flexibility. My theoretical framework is based on debates where flexibility is discussed in relation to control and influence over work. In addition I discuss how flexibility is said to cause... (More)
In this thesis I have attempted to explore flexibility of work outside the sectors which are most often associated with the concept of flexibility in ‘the new economy’, e.g. work in ICT-sectors. Through a case study of cleaners and cleaning work in Sweden I have attempted to discuss both how flexibility is represented and how consequences of flexibility can be understood in relation to experiences of cleaning work. The thesis explores different aspects of flexibility, mainly in relation to the work process but also flexible time, space and employment flexibility. My theoretical framework is based on debates where flexibility is discussed in relation to control and influence over work. In addition I discuss how flexibility is said to cause a polarisation of the labour market, where some workers constitute a skilled and functionally flexible work force whilst others become increasingly replaceable. I use an intersectional approach to investigate how flexibility can be understood in relation to processes of gendered, racialised and class based subordination of different groups of workers. The empirical material is based on informal interviews with managers in cleaning companies, with cleaners who work for larger cleaning companies and analyses of articles in a union magazine. I have found that cleaners are not represented as flexible, but that cleaners themselves understand flexibility as an important competence in their work. Flexibility in my material can also be understood as an active construction of cleaning work as ‘service’. In the analysis I further argue that the perspective on competence as socially constructed, through gendered and racialised processes, is crucial for how we can understand the notion of workers’ replaceability in relation to both functional and numerical flexibility. I have furthermore found that tendencies point in the direction of a formalisation of flexibility. Through these processes; employers’ control over cleaners’ work can be said to increase and colonizes the spaces of flexibility which were previously understood by cleaners as sources of autonomy and freedom. (Less)
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author
Krifors, Karin LU
supervisor
organization
course
SIMT21 20082
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Cleaning Work, Flexibility, Intersectionality, Competence, Work Process
language
English
id
1369159
date added to LUP
2009-06-15 15:02:52
date last changed
2011-02-28 11:56:29
@misc{1369159,
  abstract     = {In this thesis I have attempted to explore flexibility of work outside the sectors which are most often associated with the concept of flexibility in ‘the new economy’, e.g. work in ICT-sectors. Through a case study of cleaners and cleaning work in Sweden I have attempted to discuss both how flexibility is represented and how consequences of flexibility can be understood in relation to experiences of cleaning work. The thesis explores different aspects of flexibility, mainly in relation to the work process but also flexible time, space and employment flexibility. My theoretical framework is based on debates where flexibility is discussed in relation to control and influence over work. In addition I discuss how flexibility is said to cause a polarisation of the labour market, where some workers constitute a skilled and functionally flexible work force whilst others become increasingly replaceable. I use an intersectional approach to investigate how flexibility can be understood in relation to processes of gendered, racialised and class based subordination of different groups of workers. The empirical material is based on informal interviews with managers in cleaning companies, with cleaners who work for larger cleaning companies and analyses of articles in a union magazine. I have found that cleaners are not represented as flexible, but that cleaners themselves understand flexibility as an important competence in their work. Flexibility in my material can also be understood as an active construction of cleaning work as ‘service’. In the analysis I further argue that the perspective on competence as socially constructed, through gendered and racialised processes, is crucial for how we can understand the notion of workers’ replaceability in relation to both functional and numerical flexibility. I have furthermore found that tendencies point in the direction of a formalisation of flexibility. Through these processes; employers’ control over cleaners’ work can be said to increase and colonizes the spaces of flexibility which were previously understood by cleaners as sources of autonomy and freedom.},
  author       = {Krifors, Karin},
  keyword      = {Cleaning Work,Flexibility,Intersectionality,Competence,Work Process},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Exploring Flexibility - A Study of Cleaning Work in Sweden},
  year         = {2009},
}