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25 Years

Software Labor and the Internal Contradictions of Middle Management: The Case of an Offshore Industry

Fri, 11/22/2019 - 12:00pm
Event Location: 
537 Heller Hall

Presented by: Devika Narayan, PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology

A vast workforce in India manages the computing systems of large US and European corporations. This off-shore industry, which only 15 years ago boomed due a cost-cutting drive in Western economies, is now itself undergoing profound changes. In 2017, India‚Äôs software industry laid off employees, in particular middle managers, on an unprecedented scale. According to press reports 57,000 employees lost their jobs. This, however, is likely to be a gross underestimation. I analyze how middle managers make sense of their predicament, including the fact that they are compelled to co-create the conditions of their own redundancy. To make sense of this, I offer an analysis of the peculiar occupational position of middle managers as representatives of top management but also objects of their control. I interrogate how most managers champion new managerial strategies while being the first victims of corporate restructuring. This study speaks to ongoing debates on industrial change, corporate practices, and precarious work.