Hey, Let’s Be Slaves to “Shadow Work”

October 30, 2011 at 7:27 PM Leave a comment

I hadn’t heard of “shadow work” until today, when I read this article, though I’ve done plenty of it without knowing it had a name, and so have you.

So, what is “shadow work?”

Photo: Flickr via Bluesman 854

Examples abound, helping drive unemployment rates. Airports now have self-service check-in kiosks that allow travelers to perform the jobs of ticket agents. Travel agents once unearthed, perused and compared fares, deals and hotel rates. Shadow-working travelers now do all of this themselves on their computer screens. Medical patients are now better informed than ever — as a result of hours of online shadow work. In 1998, the Internal Revenue Service estimated that taxpayers spent six billion hours per year on “tax compliance activities.” That’s serious shadow work, the equivalent of three million full-time jobs.

Once upon a time, retail stores had employees who were not cashiers but roamed the floor, assisting customers. Go into a Wal-Mart or Target or Staples and find someone to help you locate and choose a product. Good luck. You’re on your own, left to wander the aisles in search of an unoccupied staff person. (Meanwhile, you might stumble on and purchase some item you hadn’t planned on buying.) Here, it’s not technology, but a business tactic that cuts payroll expenses by trimming the service provided to customers — and prolongs the time those customers spend rambling around inside the store. Regardless, the result is still more shadow work, as customers take on the job that retail salespeople once did.

Shadow work isn’t always unpaid; sometimes it shows up at one’s salaried job in the form of new tasks covertly added to one’s responsibilities. Not long ago, human resources departments kept track of employees’ vacation, personal and sick days. In many organizations, employees now enter their own data into absence management software.

The American corporatocracy has surreptitiously conned us into doing things for it that it used to do for us. And, far as I can tell (hello!), they aren’t reducing what they charge us to compensate for that.

So they win again and we go along with the program like dumb drones.

Welcome to a new week of doing that (me included).


Entry filed under: Consumerism, Corporatocracy, Don't Get Ripped Off, Dumbed Down, Fascist America, Financial Crisis, Repression, They Think We're Idiots/We ARE Idiots, Wars, We the People.

How Mitt Romney Made His Millions (in 32 Words or Less) This is What Fascism Looks Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Follow Me On Twitter


%d bloggers like this: