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A smart place to work? Big data systems, labour, control and modern retail stores / Leighton Evans; Rob Kitchin

New Technology, Work and Employment, Volume: 33, Issue: 1, Pages: 44 - 57

Swansea University Author: Leighton, Evans

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DOI (Published version): 10.1111/ntwe.12107

Abstract

The modern retail store is a complex coded assemblage and data-intensive environment, its operations and management mediated by a number of interlinked big data systems. This paper draws on an ethnography of a retail store in Ireland to examine how these systems modulate the functioning of the store...

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Published in: New Technology, Work and Employment
ISSN: 02681072
Published: 2018
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa39011
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Abstract: The modern retail store is a complex coded assemblage and data-intensive environment, its operations and management mediated by a number of interlinked big data systems. This paper draws on an ethnography of a retail store in Ireland to examine how these systems modulate the functioning of the store and working practices of employees. It was found that retail work involves a continual movement between a governance regime of control reliant on big data systems which seek to regulate and harnesses formal labour and automation into enterprise planning, and a disciplinary regime that deals with the symbolic, interactive labour that workers perform and act as a reserve mode of governmentality if control fails. This continual movement is caused by new systems of control being open to vertical and horizontal fissures. While retail functions as a coded assemblage of control, systems are too brittle to sustain the governmentality desired.
Keywords: retail, control, discipline, code/space, labour, big data, automation.
College: College of Arts and Humanities
Issue: 1
Start Page: 44
End Page: 57