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Numerous studies have shown that subcontracting produces relations of domination between the client company and the subcontractor. As a result, the service provider workforce ends up with lower wages and poorer working conditions. Adding to Joan Acker’s theoretical framework of gendered organisations, this article aims to renew the understanding of subcontracting by analysing it through the prism of gender. It focuses on the case of “permanent” subcontracting of the reception service. This form of externalization is found to contribute to the professional devaluation of receptionists and thus participates in the production of gender as a social process that assigns women to a subaltern and dominated position. Gender is also shown to be consubstantial to the construction of this organisational form. On the one hand, it constitutes a matrix of the theory of value that structures the boundaries of the firm, defining inside (“core”) tasks and outside (“support”) tasks. On the other hand, in combination with other relations of domination, gender contributes to the continuation of this organisational form by producing a workforce that supports it.

  • subcontracting
  • outsourcing
  • facility management
  • gender
  • receptionists
  • gendered organisations
Gabrielle Schütz
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
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