Time, Aging and Governmental Precarization: On Work Transitions Among Men in Manual Work

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 16:15
Oral Presentation
Clary KREKULA, Karlstads University, Sweden
Policies on extended working life have tended to focus on individuals, and the debate has to a great extent described older people as the problem. However, behind the rhetoric about selfish, uninformed and problematic older workers, there are well-documented organizational practices which create age-based marginalization and limit older people’s participation in working life. Insufficient emphasize on this age organization in work organizations opens for increased inequality within the collective of older workers through an individualization of the risks of working life.

Departing from interviews with 11 men between the age of 56 and 74 working in Sweden for an international company in the metal industry, this paper contributes to the discussion on how the organization of workplaces relates to organizational ageing. Based on the idea that temporality makes up a fundamental dimension of human existence and organization, I discuss notions about when employees are expected to make transitions within a work organization.

The result, showing that transitions within the work organization are based on norms of duration and assumed to follow a given sequence, indicates that the expectations on transition constitute social norms − temporal regimes. While some movements are labelled as on- and off time respectively, other are described as expected, unproblematic and generic, and thereby given a position as the age normality. Even if the older workers express a perceived need for physically easier work tasks, transitions towards less physically demanding work tasks are not socially expected or recognized. Thus, they do not belong to the social temporal order of the work organization. Departing from these results, I argue that temporal orders create age normality and marks older employees. They also make up a disciplining element of the older employees which is based on increased social insecurity, what has been described as governmental precarization.