Advertisement

Harm at Work: Bullying and Special Liberty in the Retail Sector

  • Anthony LloydEmail author
Article

Abstract

This article draws upon a number of concepts from contemporary criminological theory to address bullying and violence in the workplace. Utilizing empirical data from the UK service economy, the article argues that workplace violence includes verbal and emotional abuse and bullying. Management bullying, workplace cliques and the retail practice of “stealing sales” within the organizational and political-economic context of competition, profitability and targets reflect cultural manifestations of economic imperatives and subjective motivations that can lead to harmful and problematic practice. In considering this evidence from an ultra-realist perspective, the article suggests that some subjects, libidinally invested in the corporate workplace’s symbolic order, believe themselves to possess the “special liberty” to rise above normative codes and rules, as well as ethical obligations, in order to maximize self-interest through harmful actions that have negative consequences for co-workers. The workplace “bailiff” reflects the complex interplay between culture, political economy and subjective motivation to act in harmful ways within the workplace.

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Statement

This study was approved by my host institution’s Research Ethics Committee and conducted in compliance with the British Society of Criminology’s statement on ethical practice.

Bibliography

  1. Ames, M. (2007). Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion in America. London: Snowbooks.Google Scholar
  2. Barron, O. (2002). Why workplace bullying and violence are different: protecting employees from both. In M. Gill, B. Fisher, & V. Bowie (Eds.), Violence at work: Causes, patterns and prevention (pp. 151–164). Cullompton, Devon: Willan.Google Scholar
  3. Bartlett, J. E., & Bartlett, M. (2011). Workplace bullying: An integrative literature review. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 13(1), 69–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Berlingieri, A. (2015). Workplace bullying: Exploring an emerging framework. Work, Employment & Society, 29(2), 342–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bhaskar, R. (2008). A realist theory of science. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Carr, N. (2011). The shallows: What the internet is doing to our brains. London: W.W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  7. Chamberlain, L. J., & Hodson, R. (2010). Toxic work environments: What helps and what hurts. Sociological Perspectives, 53(4), 455–477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cohen, S. (2002). Folk devils and moral panics (3rd ed.). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Currie, E. (1985). Confronting crime: An American challenge. New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  10. Currie, E. (1997). Market, crime and community: Towards a mid-range theory of post-industrial violence. Theoretical Criminology, 1(2), 147–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Einarsen, S., Hoel, H., Zapf, D., & Cooper, C. (2011). The concept of bullying and harassment at work: The European tradition. In S. Einarsen, H. Hoel, D. Zapf, & C. Cooper (Eds.), Bullying and harassment in the workplace: Developments in theory, research, and practice (2nd ed., pp. 3–40). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.Google Scholar
  12. Ferrell, J. (2018). Drift: Illicit mobility and uncertain knowledge. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ferrell, J., Hayward, K., & Young, J. (2015). Cultural criminology (2nd ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  14. Fisher, M. (2009). Capitalist realism. Winchester: Zero.Google Scholar
  15. Fleming, P., & Sturdy, A. (2011). ‘Being yourself’ in the electronic sweatshop: New forms of normative control. Human Relations, 64(2), 177–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gill, M., Fisher, B., & Bowie, V. (2002). Violence at work: Causes, patterns and prevention. Cullompont, Devon: Willan.Google Scholar
  17. Gottfredson, M., & Hirschi, T. (1990). Positive criminology. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  18. Hall, S. (2012a). Theorizing crime and deviance. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  19. Hall, S. (2012b). The solicitation of the trap: On transcendence and Transcendental Materialism in advanced consumer-capitalism. Human Studies, 35(3), 365–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hall, S., & Winlow, S. (2007). Cultural criminology and primitive accumulation. Crime Media Culture, 3(1), 82–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hall, S., & Winlow, S. (2015). Revitalizing criminological theory: Towards a new ultra-realism. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hall, S., Winlow, S., & Ancrum, C. (2008). Criminal identities and consumer culture. Cullompton, Devon: Willan.Google Scholar
  23. Harvey, D. (2005). A brief history of neoliberalism. Oxford: University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Hillyard, P., & Tombs, S. (2004). Beyond Criminology? In P. Hillyard, C. Pantazis, S. Tombs, & D. Gordon (Eds.), Beyond criminology: Taking harm seriously (pp. 10–29). London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  25. Hoel, H., & Salin, D. (2003). Organizational antecedents of workplace bullying. In S. Einarsen, H. Hoel, D. Zapf, & C. Cooper (Eds.), Bullying and emotional abuse in the workplace: International perspectives in research and practice (pp. 221–236). London: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  26. Johnston, A. (2008). Žižek’s ontology: A transcendental materialist theory of subjectivity. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Katz, J. (1988). Seductions of crime. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  28. Korczynski, M., & Evans, C. (2013). Customer abuse to service workers: An analysis of its social creation within the service economy. Work, Employment & Society, 27(5), 768–784.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lea, J., & Young, J. (1993). What is to be done about Law and Order? (2nd ed.). London: Pluto.Google Scholar
  30. Lloyd, A. (2012). Working to live, not living to work: Work, leisure and youth identity among call centre workers in North East England. Current Sociology, 60(5), 619–635.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lloyd, A. (2013). Labour markets and identity on the post-industrial assembly line. Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  32. Lloyd, A. (2017). Ideology at work: Reconsidering ideology, the labour process and workplace resistance. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 37(5/6), 266–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lloyd, A. (2018). The harms of work: An ultra-realist account of the service economy. Bristol: University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. MacIntyre, A. (2011). After virtue: A study in moral theory. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  35. Martin, D., Mackenzie, N., & Healy, J. (2012). Balancing risk and professional identity, secondary school teachers’ narratives of violence. Criminology and Criminal Justice, 13(4), 398–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Matthews, R. (2016). Realist criminology, the new aetiological crisis and the crime drop. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 5(3), 2–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Matthews, R. (2017). False starts, wrong turns and dead ends: Reflections on recent developments in criminology. Critical Criminology: An International Journal, 25(4), 577–591.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Meloni, M. (2014). How biology became social, and what it means for social theory. The Sociological Review, 62(3), 593–614.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pemberton, S. (2016). Harmful societies: Understanding social harm. Bristol: Policy Press.Google Scholar
  40. Raymen, T. (2017). Living in the end times through popular culture: An ultra-realist analysis of The Walking Dead as popular criminology. Crime Media Culture.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1741659017721277.Google Scholar
  41. Savage, M., et al. (2015). Social class in the 21st century. London: Pelican.Google Scholar
  42. Schindeler, E. (2013). Workplace violence: Extending the boundaries of criminology. Theoretical Criminology, 18(3), 371–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Shildrick, T., et al. (2012). Poverty and insecurity. Bristol: Policy Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sloan, M. M. (2012). Unfair treatment in the workplace and worker well-being: The role of co-worker support in a service work environment. Work and Occupations, 39(1), 3–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Smith, O., & Raymen, T. (2018). Deviant leisure: A criminological perspective. Theoretical Criminology, 22(1), 63–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Standing, G. (2011). The precariat: The new dangerous class. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  47. Tombs, S. (2004). Workplace injury and death: Social harm and the illusions of law. In P. Hillyard, C. Pantazis, S. Tombs, & D. Gordon (Eds.), Beyond criminology: Taking harm seriously (pp. 156–177). London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  48. Tombs, S. (2017). Social protection after the crisis: Regulation without enforcement. Bristol: Policy Press.Google Scholar
  49. Tombs, S., & Whyte, D. (2007). Safety crimes. Cullompton, Devon: Willan.Google Scholar
  50. Treadwell, J., et al. (2013). Shopocalypse now: Consumer culture and the English riots of 2011. The British Journal of Criminology, 53, 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wakeman, S. (2017). The ‘one who knocks’ and the ‘one who waits’: Gendered violence in Breaking Bad. Crime Media Culture, 14(2), 213–228.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1741659016684897.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Williams, C. L. (2006). Inside toyland: Working, shopping and social inequality. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  53. Winlow, S., & Hall, S. (2013). Rethinking social exclusion: The end of the social? London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Winlow, S., & Hall, S. (2016). Realist criminology and its discontents. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 5(3), 80–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Yin, R. K. (2009). Case study research: Design and methods. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  56. Žižek, S. (2000). The Ticklish subject: The absent centre of political ontology. London: Verso.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Teesside UniversityMiddlesbroughUK

Personalised recommendations