Manufacturing concessions: Attritionary outsourcing at General Motor's Lordstown, USA assembly plant

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18 Scopus citations


Workers at the General Motors (GM) auto assembly factory in Lordstown, Ohio, USA, fabled in the industrial sociology literature because of their militancy during a 1972 labor dispute, have over the past decade approved a succession of contracts whittling down the labor force from 12,000 to around 3000 today. These reductions were accomplished by 'attritionary outsourcing'. To explain why labor has accepted such job loss, this interview project with Lordstown workers extends accepted accounts of deindustrialization by considering the political, material and ideological conditions underlying concessionary bargaining. As the tactic known as 'whipsawing' became less credible and consequential, GM turned to tactics that actively secure worker consent to job loss. Here one can see the replacement of Burawoy's hegemonic despotism by a despotic hegemony.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)687-708
Number of pages22
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2004


  • Auto industry
  • Deindustrialization
  • Labor relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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