Essay (2000 words)
Assignment 2 is designed to allow you to demonstrate your engagement with and understanding of scholarship concerned with the wider context, conditions and implications of contemporary organizations and contemporary labour.
The proposed essay titles are either formulated as questions or require you to discuss a problem. Most of the titles are fairly open and can be taken in several directions. Although titles can be mapped onto different module sessions (meaning that each title relates more strongly to one specific session), none of them relates to just that session. Your discussion of the question will always be stronger for making connections with issues discussed in other sessions of the module. For example, the idea of ‘liquid work’ involves aspects of gender and power.
You’re not limited to discussing only those ideas that we have covered extensively in class. You might want to develop an issue touched on only briefly in the lectures, but discussed at greater length in a seminar, or in a weekly reading; or you may want to pursue an idea developed in texts to which a reading or discussion has pointed. Feel free to follow your own trail, in other words, so long as you answer the question.
Above all, I want to see evidence that you have engaged with a wide range of relevant scholarship. I would expect to see references to at least 10 good quality, academic sources (this means you should not rely too much on Wikipedia!). The best thing to do is to start with the weekly readings relevant to your question as well as the other texts I mention below, and to then follow up on interesting references from the bibliographies in these essays and books. The list of recommended readings you can find here is not very long, precisely to encourage you to do some independent research.
You are absolutely welcome to develop your own question or to tweak one of these but you must get the question or title approved by me. If you don’t, the essay will receive an automatic fail.
GUIDELINES TO SPECIFIC ESSAY TITLES
Choose a recent innovation in technology and present a critical analysis of its effects and implications for one organization of your choice.
This title mainly refers to concepts discussed in Week 4 (New Technologies and Organizations). However, technology has implication for the organization of the workforce, globalization and issues of power. You do not have to address all of these but keeping at least some of them in mind will help you build a stronger answer to the question.
Grint, K. and Woolgar, S. (1997) The Machine at Work: Technology, Work and Organization, Cambridge: Polity, 116-138 (especially Chapter 1 and Chapter 5).
Ritzer, G. (2011) ‘Control: Human and Nonhuman Robots’, in G. Ritzer, The McDonaldization of Society, London: Sage, 117-142 (Chapter 6).
Hesmondhalgh, D. (2007) ‘New Media, Digitalisation and Convergence’, in D. Hesmondhalgh, The Cultural Industries, London: Sage, 240-269.
Scholz, T. (2012) Digital Labor: The Internet as Playground and Factory, London: Routledge.
Terranova, T. (2000) ‘Free Labor: Producing Culture for the Digital Economy’, Social Text 63, 18: 2, pp. 33-58.
Available at http://web.mit.edu/schock/www/docs/18.2terranova.pdf.
Head, S. (2003) The New Ruthless Economy: Work and Power in the Digital Age, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Beck, U. (2000) The Brave New World of Work, Cambridge, Polity Press
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