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Working to consume: consumers as the missing link in the division of labour

Glucksmann, MA (2013) Working to consume: consumers as the missing link in the division of labour. UNSPECIFIED. Centre for Research in Economic Sociology and Innovation (CRESI) Working Paper 2013-03, University of Essex, Colchester, UK.

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Abstract

This paper argues that the work of consumers is a significant and constantly developing field of work, and proposes a conceptual framework for understanding consumption work as part of the division of labour. The labour associated with consumption is not new, but has been rapidly expanding in recent years as a consequence of both socio-economic change and technical innovation. Few goods or services are delivered ?complete? to consumers in the sense of being ready for use without further activity, yet the role of consumers in completing a system of provision is rarely acknowledged in theories of either work or consumption. Recognition of the interdependence between the work undertaken prior to and after the purchase of goods and services problematises any assumption that all post-purchase activity comprises consumption and calls for a conception of the division of labour that extends from the market and world of paid employment to encompass also the usually unpaid labour of the end user. Consumption work is defined as ?all work undertaken by consumers necessary for the purchase, use, re-use and disposal of consumption goods?. Its key characteristics are delineated using examples from everyday life, and the approach towards it is distinguished from the practices and theories of consumption, domestic labour, and co-production/prosumption. The paper draws on current international comparative research in three socio-economic fields of activity (the work of food preparation, the installation of broad band and household recycling of waste) to illustrate its main arguments and explore the varieties of consumption work, their shaping by prevailing systems of provision, and their place within the division of labour.

Item Type: Monograph (UNSPECIFIED)
Additional Information: This paper was produced as part of the ?Consumption Work and Societal Divisions of Labour? project, funded by the European Research Council.
Uncontrolled Keywords: consumption work; division of labour; consumption; co-production; ready-made food; recycling; broadband installation
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2013 15:03
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2017 17:57
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/7538

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