Permanent Pedagogy: How Post-Fordist Firms Generate Effort but Not Consent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


We lack a compelling account of the post-Fordist labor process. When firms can no longer provide secure jobs at good pay, how do they motivate workers? Rather than a return to despotism, this ethnography of call center work documents a novel system of indirect control. New employees are rushed onto the production floor, where their lack of preparation discomfits them and motivates them to play an autonomous learning game. Although initially generative of effort, the game is difficult to master and offers few rewards for sustained participation. Intense effort and high attrition coexist, a management system that the author labels permanent pedagogy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-34
Number of pages32
JournalWork and Occupations
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 21 2015


  • call centers
  • labor process
  • management
  • post-Fordism
  • service work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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