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Crossing the Great Divide


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About the Author

Vicki Smith is Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Davis. She is the author of Crossing the Great Divide and Managing in the Corporate Interest and coauthor of The Good Temp.


"Providing a welcome change of direction ... Vicki Smith's book argues convincingly that we should not take a romantic view of work in the age of mass production... Her research has thrown up a plausible conclusion that today's booming US employment market with its 'turbulence, decentral-isation, variation, and unpredictability' offers many workers what they see as an opportunity ... 'to invest themselves in their work.'"-Robert Taylor, Financial Times. January 18, 2001. "Each of the participants in Smith's four studies must cope with the contradictions faced by those whose jobs may be at risk but who also face new opportunities at the same time, and she explores how workers attempt to cross 'the great divide' and take advantage of the 'new economy.'"-David Rouse, Booklist, May 2001 "Smith examines how different groups of workers acquire the skills, know-how, cultural and human capital, and mental aptitudes that might help them reap the benefits of the new economy."-Choice, November 2001, Vol. 39, No. 3 "Crossing the Great Divide is an expos' of the downside of the risk in the new economy. Vicki Smith argues that 'temporariness and risk' have become intertwined with workers' expectations of opportunity and advancement, which were understood in the days of the old economy as the rewards for hard work or even dedication."-Gina Neff, Columbia University. Dissent, Spring 2002 "I am glad to include this book alongside the other recent accounts of the variety of work experiences in the new country. Similarly, I will undoubtedly point my students to this book for rich description of some of the felt consequences of working in the new economy."-Beth A. Rubin, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, Contemporary Sociology, 31, 5 "There is a growing literature on globalization, employment restructuring, and the postindustrial workplace. Much of that work may already be obsolete, however, as recent evidence suggests that both the cynics and the optimists are wrong-or, at least, only partly right. Crossing the Great Divide is among the first books that tackle this complexity head on and, in the process, provides students and researchers with new ways to think about employment in the 21st century."-Amy S. Wharton, Washington State University, American Journal of Sociology, May 2002, 107:6 "The changing nature of employment relations in the United States in the late twentieth century is not only a topic of considerable importance in industrial relations, organization studies, and economics; it is a topic that concerns the average American as well. With its original approach and engaging prose, Crossing the Great Divide will prove to be one of the most important books ever written on the subject."-Stephen R. Barley, Stanford University "Crossing the Great Divide provides a textured understanding of workers' diverse responses to work reorganization in the New Economy. The case studies presented in this book illustrate vividly how risk, uncertainty and opportunity interact to shape workers' enduring connections to employment institutions in contemporary U.S. society."-Arne L. Kalleberg, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill "In Crossing the Great Divide, Vicki Smith documents the resignation of workers to a corporate-controlled economic order in which they are inherently disposable commodities. At the same time as she uncovers a lack of solidaristic social movements and other alternatives that challenge the status quo, Smith depicts the almost desperate desire of workers to find meaning and hope in the workplace. Fascinating and beautifully written, I can't think of another book like this."-Ruth Milkman, University of California, Los Angeles

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