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Despotism on DemandHow Power Operates in the Flexible Workplace$
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Alex J. Wood

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501748875

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501748875.001.0001

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Control in the Twenty-First Century

(p.134) Conclusions
Despotism on Demand

Alex J. Wood

Cornell University Press

This concluding chapter explains that the findings from ConflictCo and PartnershipCo suggest that a form of flexible despotism is key for understanding workplace control of workers in the twenty-first century. It considers how the form that flexible despotism takes is modified by the differing levels of bargaining power of workers. Specifically, the chapter looks at how the provision of greater employment rights and union protection leads to a more progressive form of flexible despotism—but one in which precarious scheduling nonetheless remains central to workplace control. This account of power at work provides a valuable insight into the experiences of control of a large number of postindustrial workers in the on-demand economy. The chapter then reflects on the implications for the future of work in the on-demand economy and assesses the forms of workplace control that are likely to achieve prominence as the century progresses.

Keywords:   flexible despotism, workplace control, bargaining power, employment rights, union protection, flexible scheduling, postindustrial workers, on-demand economy

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