Stratification and Work in Contemporary Logistics
Author/s: Roger Penn
OnlineFirst published on September 20, 2016
Year: 2016 Vol: 36 Number: 1
This paper examines the relationship between stratification and work in contemporary logistics from two theoretical angles. The first involves an analysis of the utility of the model of primary versus secondary labour markets as a template for assessing the core characteristics of logistics’ work. The second involves a parallel assessment of the salience of post-modern theories of time for an understanding of how such work is structured. Logistics involves the movement of goods and information by road, rail, sea and air. High levels of surveillance and control are embedded within these flows. These are critical for the creation of value via the supply of commodities to industrial, personal and commercial customers at the exact time desired by them. This has involved a paradigmatic shift in economic production from the Fordist system, whereby goods were manufactured in long production runs and then pushed up the supply chain to retailers, to a post-Fordist system, whereby production is determined directly by consumer demand. The world of transportation and warehousing has suffered from systematic neglect by sociologists. Part of this lies in a deep seated Marxist bias within the field whereby factory work is characterized as “productive” and somehow more significant and authentic, whereas the worlds of transportation and distribution are seen as “unproductive” and far less important.