Annalisa Dordoni

Times and rhythms of retail work. Destructuration and alienation processes

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: retail work, time, alienation, everyday life, social acceleration.

Objects of this empirical research are the times and rhythms of working with customers, particularly the perceptions and representations of shift workers in the retail sector in two situated contexts, two European shopping streets, Corso Buenos Aires in Milan and Oxford Street in London. The aim of the research is to analyse working times and rhythms in a particular socioeconomic context, characterised by a post-Fordist, service-oriented economy and the phenomena of mass consumption and demand of immediate gratification by potential customers. Moreover, this research investigated the new processes of transformation of social times and rhythms in today’s deindustrialised metropolis. Qualitative methods have been used: during one year of ethnographic observation, comprehensively fifty interviews and two focus groups have been carried out. This study represents an advancement in the literature on working times and everyday life, with a wide range of empirical material, intersecting different research perspectives. This study represents an advancement in the literature on working times and everyday life, with a wide range of empirical material, intersecting different research perspectives. In this research, for the first time and in an original way, the pace of work in the accelerated late-modern society is investigated from the retail workers’ point of view, focusing on their perceptions and representations on the times and rhythms of working with customers, in two contemporary European shopping streets. This essay argues that retail workers are privileged witnesses of the acceleration and de-structuration processes, and that these social transformation processes influence their life, creating a specific condition of time alienation.

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