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Cover for Coerced


Work Under Threat of Punishment

Erin Hatton


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Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (3/24/2020)


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.

Coerced 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.

Theoretically forceful yet vivid and gripping to read, Coerced compels the reader to reevaluate contemporary dynamics of work, pushing beyond concepts like "career" and "gig work." Through this bold analysis, Hatton offers a trenchant window into this world of work from the perspective of those who toil within it—and who are developing the tools needed to push back against it.

Praise For Coerced: Work Under Threat of Punishment

"This fascinating book examines workplace practices in a new light. By examining incarcerated workers, workfare recipients, graduate students, and college athletes, Hatton probes how these groups experience and conceptualize work. . . . Through a series of in-depth interviews, the author examines the contradictory ways in which workers understand their situations: some accept their status almost without question, while others who understand that they are being exploited rebel against it. Hatton's study excellently argues the importance of the concept of status coercion and its relevance to these workers, in turn expanding the understanding of the punitive aspects of work and the theoretical understanding of work to highlight its precarity. Highly recommended."

University of California Press, 9780520305397, 304pp.

Publication Date: March 24, 2020

About the Author

Erin Hatton is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University at Buffalo.