Notes on a Theory…

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Posts Tagged ‘scientific management

Exploitation, Hard Work and Motivation: Wall Street and the School House Part II

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This is the second of three posts on Karen Ho’s Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street. See also Part I and Part III.

Karen Ho reports that one defining feature of work on Wall Street is exploitation: specifically incredibly long hours and very hard work.  She calls it “a white collar sweatshop.” (84) Recruits experience shock when they realize what their working conditions will be like. But ultimately, this work is seen as justifying the vast differences in rewards they receive and great inequities among them.  “Unlike most workers in the neoliberal economy, elite Wall Streeters still experience a link between hard work and monetary rewards and upward mobility—although that link is importantly enabled by prestigious schooling, networking and a culture of smartness.” (74) Yet they (wrongly) imagine that others in the economy did not work hard—that the rest of corporate America worked nine-to-five. (103) “On Wall Street,” Ho says, “overwork is a normative practice.” (99) Indeed, these two things go together—Wall Street’s denizens believe they are smarter and work harder than everyone else, and that this justifies the power they wield in the country and around the world.

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Written by David Kaib

June 4, 2014 at 8:00 am

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