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The Corrosion of Character:
In the brave new world of the "flexible" corporation, Richard Sennett observes, workers at all levels are regarded as wholly disposable, and they have responded in kind, ceasing to think in terms of any long-term relationship with the organizations they work for. This, he argues, has tremendous negative consequences for workers' emotional and psychological well-being. Even in menial jobs, we extract much of our self-image from the idea of a "career"--a life narrative rendered intelligible by specific loyalties, which is to some degree self-invented but also in some respects predictable. Innovations like "flextime" and bureaucratic "de-layering" seem to promise more freedom to define one's career, but in fact they create jobs in which there's less freedom than ever to be had. The Corrosion of Character is a short, anecdotal book, and while one might wish that it included a discussion of the social and psychological costs of the sheer increase of work time in the average worker's week, Sennett has created a pithy, disturbing picture of the cost of the corporate world's much-vaunted new efficiencies. --Richard Farr [via]