The management of “quality”: class decomposition and racial formation in a Chicago factory

De Genova, Nicholas. 2010. The management of “quality”: class decomposition and racial formation in a Chicago factory. Dialectical Anthropology, 34(2), pp. 249-272. ISSN 0304-4092 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Workplace training offers a distinctly explicit and uniquely articulate site for the ethnography of the capital–labor relation as an ideological phenomenon, where the everyday work of hegemony is shown to be deeply grounded in the everyday hegemony of work. In this ethnographic account of a factory classroom devoted to introducing production workers to the precepts of Total Quality Management and training them in Statistical Process Control, the neoliberal reform of the labor process—which sought to accomplish a class decomposition of the company’s workforce in favor of an individualizing regime of workers’ personal responsibility and accountability for various quality control operations—repeatedly provoked the company’s Latino workers into angry and vociferous expressions of antagonism to management. Indeed, insofar as the management’s efforts to reform labor by decomposing the workforce as a class formation merely intensified the prevailing preconditions of their racial formation, they thereby only exacerbated anew the Latino workers’ antagonism as workers to the terms of their subordination. Thus, the generic (ostensibly race-neutral) reform of the labor process initiated under the aegis of “Total Quality Management” implicated the presumed management of “quality” in a concomitant reconfiguration of what was, effectively, a contemporary regime of racial management.

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June 2010Published

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27 Sep 2013 10:03

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27 Sep 2013 10:03

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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