Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary

By Louis Hyman

The untold history of the surprising origins of the "gig economy"—how deliberate decisions made by consultants and CEOs in the 50s and 60s upended the stability of the workplace and the lives of millions of working men and women in postwar America.

Every working person in the United States asks the same question, how secure is my job? For a generation, roughly from 1945 to 1970, business and government leaders embraced a vision of an American workforce rooted in stability. But over the last fifty years, 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. A series of deliberate decisions preceded the digital revolution and upended the longstanding understanding of what a corporation, or a factory, or a shop, was meant to do.

Temp tells the story of the unmaking of American work through the experiences of those on the inside: consultants and executives, temps and office workers, line workers and migrant laborers. It begins in the sixties, with economists, consultants, business and policy leaders who began to shift the corporation from a provider of goods and services to one whose sole purpose was to maximize profit--an ideology that brought with it the risk-taking entrepreneur and the shareholder revolution and changed the very definition of a corporation.

With Temp, Hyman explains one of the nation's most immediate crises. Uber are not the cause of insecurity and inequality in our country, and neither is the rest of the gig economy. The answer goes deeper than apps, further back than downsizing, and contests the most essential assumptions we have about how our businesses should work.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Louis Hyman is an associate professor of economic history at the Industrial Labor Relations School of Cornell University, as well as the director of ILR’s Institute for Workplace Studies in New York City. A former Fulbright scholar and McKinsey consultant, Hyman received his PhD in American history from Harvard University. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Slate, Bloomberg, Pacific Standard, Wilson Quarterly and elsewhere. He is the author of Debtor Nation: The History of America in Red Ink and Borrow: The American Way of Debt.




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ISBN: 9780735224070

About the Hardcover

Publisher Viking
Publish date 08/21/2018
Pages 400
ISBN-13 9780735224070
ISBN-10 0735224072
Language English

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