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Brown Bag Series: Working for Respect: Community and Conflict at Walmart
November 8, 2017 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
During the summer of 2014, on the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, we sent 20 students to sites around the country to interview and organize some of today’s most disenfranchised Americans: Walmart workers. Through the framework of this summer project, and drawing on a wide array of methods, Working for Respect (forthcoming from Columbia University Press) examines how Walmart workers make sense of their jobs on the “shop floor,” and it follows one nascent labor organization’s attempt to shed its bureaucratic past and capture workers’ imaginations. Broadly, the book is about the relationship between social ties and social change. We find that social ties often act as tethers, anchoring us to the world as it is and reproducing our positions within it. Occasionally, though, the material and symbolic relations we have with others can become bonds of solidarity, catalyzing a new sense of self, transforming individuals into collective actors able to push towards an uncertain but more hopeful future.
Professor Adam Reich
Department of Sociology, Columbia University