Working for Respect

By Adam Reich and Peter Bearman

Walmart is the largest employer in the world and encompasses nearly one percent of the entire American workforce. It also presents one possible future for work—Walmartism, in which the arbitrary authority of managers mixes with a hyperrationalized, centrally controlled bureaucracy in ways that curtail workers’ ability to control their working conditions and their lives. In Working for Respect, Adam Reich, associate professor of sociology, and Peter Bearman, Jonathan R. Cole Professor of Sociology, draw on a wide array of methods, including participant-observation, oral history, big data, and analysis of social networks, to examine the nature of contemporary low-wage work, as well as the obstacles and opportunities such workplaces present as sites of struggle for social and economic justice.