©2018 by Louis Hyman

TEMP: HOW AMERICAN WORK, AMERICAN BUSINESS, AND THE AMERICAN DREAM BECAME TEMPORARY
 

WHY HAS WORK BECOME INSECURE?

Every working person in the United States asks the same question, how secure is my job? Job security has cratered as the postwar institutions that insulated us from volatility–big unions, big corporations, powerful regulators–have been swept aside by a fervent belief in “the market.” 

 

Temp tracks the surprising transformation of an ethos which favored long-term investment in work (and workers) to one promoting short-term returns. 

Through the experiences of those on the inside–consultants and executives, temps and office workers, line workers and migrant laborers–Temp shows how the American Dream was unmade.

Temp explores the history of today's most immediate crisis. Uber and the rest of the gig economy are not the causes of inequality and insecurity in our countrybut they are connected. The story goes deeper than apps, further back than downsizing, and contests the most essential assumptions we have about how our businesses should work.

WHY HAS WORK BECOME INSECURE?

Every working person in the United States asks the same question, how secure is my job? Job security has cratered as the postwar institutions that insulated us from volatility–big unions, big corporations, powerful regulators–have been swept aside by a fervent belief in “the market.” 

 

Temp tracks the surprising transformation of an ethos which favored long-term investment in work (and workers) to one promoting short-term returns. 

Through the experiences of those on the inside–consultants and executives, temps and office workers, line workers and migrant laborers–Temp shows how the American Dream was unmade.

Temp explores the history of today's most immediate crisis. Uber and the rest of the gig economy are not the causes of inequality and insecurity in our countrybut they are connected. The story goes deeper than apps, further back than downsizing, and contests the most essential assumptions we have about how our businesses should work.

"Engaging"

"A revealing study of the “gig economy,” which, though it seems new, has long antecedents."

"A quietly hopeful spin on an economic process that has proved tremendously dislocating for a generation and more of workers."

Kirkus Reviews

"Thorough, thoughtful, and sympathetic"

"This disquieting history of worker dispensability ... tries to find cause for optimism in the emergence of the “gig economy,” but will still leave salaried employees looking nervously over their shoulders."

Publishers Weekly

"Succeeds as a synthesis of economics, sociology, and history by opting for good storytelling over jargon."

Booklist

“How employers learned to prefer disposable workers without rights for nearly every job could be the subtitle of this stark yet engaging tale. Louis Hyman names the culprits, too: entrepreneurs and consultants who taught corporations to chuck obligations to the people on whom they depend. Companies were able to experiment freely on those left out of the New Deal social contract, turning the vulnerability of some into today’s insecurity and anxiety for all. If the sunny ending sounds like whistling in the graveyard, no matter: this book is a stimulus to start imagining a sustainable economic order for our time.”

NANCY MACLEAN, author of Democracy in Chains

"Louis Hyman’s “Temp” takes us on an historical deep dive into how US jobs have developed over time, so that we can better understand where they are headed. Whether you are cheered by or wary of the advent of gig and nontraditional work arrangements, this book offers a new lens to see how we reached this point.  As the largest and most complex market in the country, the labor market affects all our lives.  Its practices and outcomes govern whether we are secure, well-paid, safe, proud, and interested in our work—or not.  “Temp” engagingly and authoritatively reviews the last century of managerial strategy, workplace regulation, and technological change, and offers insight into job-related challenges we will face in the years ahead." 

—ERICA GROSHEN, former Commissioner of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

“Temp is a riveting read for anyone grappling with the contradictions and inequities of contemporary capitalism. Louis Hyman simultaneously shows us the decades-long evolution of the present epidemic of job insecurity, takes a clear-eyed look at the exploitation of women and workers of color, and outlines a positive vision of how Americans can prosper in both work and life.”

—ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER, president and CEO of New America

“In this marvelously insightful study of the revolution now convulsing the world of work, Louis Hyman demonstrates that management-consulting firms like McKinsey and the Boston Consulting Group are truly the organic intellectuals of contemporary capitalism.  They rationalize and propagandize for a business system in which insecurity and inequality have become a new normal encompassing everything from the most familiar big box store to the exotic worksites of Silicon Valley.”

—NELSON LICHTENSTEIN, Author of State of The Union and The Retail Revolution

“Countering common wisdom, Louis Hyman shows that the norm of steady work has been eroded for decades not by the workings of an abstract market but through the systematic efforts of management consultants and temporary work agencies, spreading the gospel of flexibility and cheap labor. Like it or hate it, the gig economy has a history that Hyman masterfully reveals.”

—JOSHUA B. FREEMAN,

author of Behemoth: A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World

“Louis Hyman weaves a tapestry of unlikely people and events: an orphaned electrician working nights, braceros and divorcées, McKinsey consultants stalking the hallways, undocumented women assembling electronics in kitchens, virtual receptionists, dexterous robots, disgruntled saboteurs, and INS raids. And yet Temp is about our future. This is a crucial book for our time—it is insightful, surprising, and deeply humane.”

—KEVIN BIRMINGHAM, author of The Most Dangerous Book


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