Wages and Bottlenecks: Home-Based Work and Factory System in Ýstanbul
In: Proceedings of the Conference on Globalization and Its Discontents
Analyzing two research projects on the industrial home-based work (HBW) in 2003 and 2006 in Istanbul, Turkey, this paper argues that two forms of rigidities shape the organizational characteristics of the HBW: limited physical mobility of the homeworkers and the in-built pressures within the labor process of the factory system. On one hand, the rigidities regarding the mobility of homeworkers determine the conditions of the labor process of the HBW. Among some dimensions of the labor process of HBW, mechanisms for the distribution of piecework, the training of homeworkers, or storage of the piecework are directly related with the physical mobility of homeworkers. On the other hand, the co-existence of labor- and capital-intensive processes in the factory system unavoidably creates management bottlenecks, which account for another form of rigidity. HBW appears as the solution for such management problems. These corresponding rigidities characterize the organizational variety of the HBW. Negative work conditions of the homeworkers such as low piece-wages and precariousness in the employment practices are accounted for by these rigidities. As much as the low piece-wages generally associated with the HBW in the literature. Thus, investigation of the HBW should go beyond the argument about the low piece-wages and start to analyze the actual conditions of organization resulting in the deteriorating conditions of work for homeworkers. The literature emphasizes the centrality of the low piece-wages turning this form of labor into an alternative for the factory system. Although the research projects analyzed in this paper verify this consensus, two forms of rigidities motivate both workers and employers to 'get into the HBW-nexus': Homeworkers shape the organizational arrangements significantly, given that HBW does not pertain to a formal form of employment. Thus, their conditions of physical mobility account for a key element in the organization of HBW. Since the state of mobility by homeworkers is rather one of rigidity than an advantage, their regarding condition should be the focus to understand the mindsets of the homeworkers.
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