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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24860

Title: Clerical Workers: Acquiring the Skills to Meet Tacit Process Expectations Within a Context of Work Undervaluation and Job Fragility
Authors: Radsma, Johanna
Advisor: Livingstone, David W.
Department: Sociology and Equity Studies in Education
Keywords: clerical workers
relational skills
Issue Date: 1-Sep-2010
Abstract: Since the late nineteenth century, clerical work has transformed from a small cluster of respected occupations dominated by men to a rapidly changing group of occupations 90 percent of which are held by women. Due to bureaucratization and the feminization of clerical work, clerical jobs are assumed to be routinized and simple, and clerical workers deemed easily replaceable. With further changes to the occupation caused by technology and globalization, clerical workers today have become increasingly vulnerable to unemployment, precarious employment and underemployment. In this research, an Ontario-wide survey with approximately 1200 respondents (including 120 clerical workers) and in-depth interviews with 23 Toronto clerical workers were combined to explore the employment situation of Ontario clerical workers. It is apparent that clerical workers are underemployed along all measured conventional dimensions of underemployment, including credential, performance and subjective as well as work permanence, salary levels and job opportunities. Relational practice is a largely unexamined aspect of clerical work that is often essentialized as a female trait and seldom recognized as skilled practice. In this dissertation, I argue that relational practice is critical to the successful performance of clerical roles and that relational practices are not innate but rather learned skills. I explore some ways in which clerical workers acquire these skills. I conclude by noting that recognizing and valuing relational skills will make the value of clerical workers more apparent to their employers, potentially reducing for clerical workers both their subjective sense of underemployment and their vulnerability to job loss.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24860
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education - Doctoral theses

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