Repairing Computers and (Re)producing Hierarchy: An Ethnography of Support Work and Status.

Show simple item record Seeley, Jessica Lotus 2016-06-10T19:33:12Z NO_RESTRICTION 2016-06-10T19:33:12Z 2016 2016
dc.description.abstract Though there are at least two non-academic staff for each faculty member at major colleges and universities, scholars know almost nothing about them. This impoverishes our understanding of recent changes in the university structure, variously termed managerialism, marketization, and neo-liberalization. I examine the generally ignored experience of university support staff, showing how their roles maintaining both the infrastructure and the status hierarchy of the organization provide a unique vantage point on organizational change. Based on over 200 hours of non-participant observation at an IT Help Desk in a health care and research college at a large university supplemented by 30 hours at a professional school and interviews with 17 women and 12 men employed as IT Support Staff in 20 other departments, all on the same campus, I show how the mundane work of IT Support plays a pivotal role in the reorganization of the status order of modern universities. The first chapter examines the modern university as a workplace, analyzing how staff is represented in higher education research, including ignoral, recognition, and scapegoating. Chapter 2 details my field site, the workers, and users. Chapter 3 discusses the sociological concept of status and develops the concept of “support work” to highlight the interdependence of core/professional and support work. The next three chapters examine distinct empirical examples of the interactional reproduction of organizational status: help seeking, waiting and queuing, and responses to refusal. Each chapter shows how high status users reproduce their organizational dominance through modes of interaction that construct faculty and staff as diffuse statuses. Chapter 7 details the emotional labor engaged in by IT support workers, showing how they function as both shock troops of rationalization, implementing new policies, and shock absorbers, assuaging faculty anger at new policies and dissipating their own frustration through backstage human. I conclude with a discussion of how attention to staff can help researchers, theorists, and practitioners. To fully understand the contemporary university’s organizational structure, researchers need to take seriously the staff whose interactions with faculty and among themselves (re)produce the organizational infrastructure on a daily basis.
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.subject work and occupations
dc.subject organizations
dc.subject support workers
dc.subject (re)production of status
dc.subject micro-level interaction
dc.title Repairing Computers and (Re)producing Hierarchy: An Ethnography of Support Work and Status.
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.description.thesisdegreename PHD
dc.description.thesisdegreediscipline Women's Studies and Sociology
dc.description.thesisdegreegrantor University of Michigan, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies
dc.contributor.committeemember Armstrong, Elizabeth Ann
dc.contributor.committeemember Cortina, Lilia M
dc.contributor.committeemember Mizruchi, Mark S
dc.contributor.committeemember Smock, Pamela J
dc.subject.hlbsecondlevel Sociology
dc.subject.hlbsecondlevel Women's and Gender Studies
dc.subject.hlbtoplevel Social Sciences
dc.identifier.orcid 0000-0003-2556-9335 Seeley, J. Lotus; 0000-0003-2556-9335 en_US
dc.owningcollname Dissertations and Theses (Ph.D. and Master's)
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