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Title: Customer oriented militants? A critique of the 'customer oriented bureaucracy' theory on front-line service worker collectivism
Authors: Brook, Paul A.
First Published: Jun-2007
Publisher: Sage
Citation: Work, employment and society, 2007, 21 (2), pp. 363-374.
Abstract: This critique challenges the Customer Oriented Bureaucracy (COB) theory’s argument that the experience of customer service is pivotal to the formation of front-line service worker collectivism. COB’s rejection of the major tenets of Marxist analysis, thereby denying the exploitative and class nature of service work, results in Korczynski theorising front-line worker collectivism as based only on the shared experience of doing customer service rather than as workers per se. As a neo-Weberian theory, COB argues ‘consumer capitalism’s’ ideology of ‘customer sovereignty’ is a contemporary ideological ‘iron cage’ of value rationalisation in a unified, contradictory relationship with bureaucratic rationalisation. COB theory, consequently, allows only for a trade unionism that is limited to contesting the terms of customer service rather than challenging the deepening commodification of social relations.
DOI Link: 10.1177/0950017007076645
ISSN: 0950-0170
eISSN: 1469-8722
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2007 BSA Publications Ltd®
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, School of Management

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