The demand for flexibility as a process of disenfranchisement

Anders Petersen, Rasmus Willig

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

The demand for employees to show flexibility is not merely a characteristic of large companies, but one that can even be traced in municipal day nurseries and kindergartens. In a series of focus group interviews with Danish kindergarten teachers, managers and staff representatives, it became clear that the idea of flexibility has been incorporated into society's most basic reproductive stages. In this article we show that this demand has proved difficult to handle; it has been accompanied by the impression of unceasing change, which leads to insecurity. Inorder to lend theoretical explanatory power to the kindergarten teachers' experience of insecurity, Axel Honneth's considerations of how it has become harder to perceive the kinds of performance that will provide recognition have been included. Similarly, Boltanski and Chiapello's reflections on project work, in which the idea of showing flexibility is a central value in obtaining recognition, have been included and are discussed in relation to the fact that several of the respondents felt their criticism was not heard when they protested against the increasing demands for flexibility.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDistinktion : Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory
Volume12
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)343-362
Number of pages19
ISSN1600-910X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • critical theory
  • disenfranchisement
  • flexibility
  • focus group interview
  • kindergarten teachers
  • recognition

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