Coerced: Work Under Threat of Punishment
What do prisoner laborers, graduate students, welfare workers, and college athletes have in common? According to sociologist Erin Hatton, they are all part of a growing workforce of coerced laborers. In this talk Hatton explores this world of coerced labor through an unexpected and compelling comparison of these four groups of workers, for whom a different definition of “employment” reigns supreme—one where workplace protections do not apply and employers wield expansive punitive power, far beyond the ability to hire and fire. Because such arrangements are common across the economy, Hatton argues that coercion—as well as precarity—is a defining feature of work in America today.
Erin Hatton is an associate professor of sociology at the University at Buffalo – SUNY. Her research is centered in the sociology of work, while also extending into the fields of race and gender, social inequality, culture, labor, law, and social policy. Her recent book, Coerced: Work Under Threat of Punishment
(University of California Press, 2020), analyzes the labor of prisoners, welfare recipients, college athletes, and graduate students to uncover a new form of labor coercion and its consequences for workers in America. Her first book, The Temp Economy: From Kelly Girls to Permatemps in Postwar America
(Temple University Press, 2011), weaves together gender, race, class, and work in a cultural analysis of the temporary help industry and the rise of the new economy.