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Gender and food retail trade: challenging and reproducing work and gender in times of organizational changes
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Human Work Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3865-796X
2011 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Swedish food retail trade industry is gendered and characterized by gender segregation: The position as supervisors are traditionally held by men, whereas women predominate amongst cashiers and part-time employees. This also gives rise to differences in working condition in which women tend to have lower wages and more problematic working hours. Alongside this situation, food retailing in Sweden has been undergoing evident changes during the last decades. Since the 1990’s the number of employees has decreased, at the same time as the turnover has increased. Combined with the birth of the ‘superstore’, this means that today fewer workers are selling more in larger but leaner organizations. This is partly an effect of new organizational forms and new technology, forming a process of change wherein gender and work are negotiated and thereby possibly both challenged and reproduced. These changes are the point of departure for a newly started research project, which draws on social constructionist gender theories. Although retail trade is the second largest profession in Sweden, it is a sector that few scholars have examined. The project therefore has the potential to make important contribution to the understanding of working conditions in contemporary retail trade contexts as well as to theories on gender and work. In this paper empirical findings from an interview study with store managers from twelve superstores regarding their organizational structures and employment patters are presented. More specifically, the purpose is to illustrate how different types of organizational structures create specific framework for gendered labours/labour within food retailing. Work rotation is now, to some extent, said to be implemented by all interviewed managers. This has had greatest impact on the counter work, which in most stores has transformed from a (female) job description, to a work task that is shared amongst most of the store workers, both men and women. This can be seen as an example on how new types of organizational forms challenge the old gender structures. The leaner organization combined with prolonged opened-hours is further described as creating an increased demand for a more flexible work force, such as part-time employees and in sourced temporary staff. Since these forms of employments are predominant amongst the female workers this can be seen as an example of how new types of organizational forms also seem to reinforce unequal gender structures within food retailing.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011.
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Research subject
Gender and Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-30524Local ID: 45f51d90-c771-4148-bd69-0cfc067a1aa0OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-30524DiVA, id: diva2:1003751
Conference
Annual International Labour Process Conference : 05/04/2011 - 07/04/2011
Note
Godkänd; 2011; 20141203 (krijoh)Available from: 2016-09-30 Created: 2016-09-30 Last updated: 2018-05-16Bibliographically approved

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