Coerced: Work Under Threat of Punishment

Regular price $ 29.95

by Erin Hatton

University of California Press

3/24/2020, paperback

SKU: 9780520305410


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.


"As this brilliant and thought-provoking book makes clear, key groups in American society who labor intensely day in and day out, doing essential tasks and generating profit for other people, aren't at all valued as 'workers' and thus aren't seen as citizens who contribute. Erin Hatton pushes us to reckon with how we view 'work' and, in the process, challenges us all to question why it remains acceptable to allow some people, particularly people who are marked by their race and class marginalization, to be utterly exploited in ways we would never accept for those marked by their position of privilege."--Heather Ann Thompson, Pulitzer Prize-Winning author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy

"The real value of this text is that it highlights not just the relationship between the growth of the carceral state and subsidies from private industry but how each has implications for the way work is done in the modern era. This is a major, major contribution."--Adia Harvey Wingfield, author of Flattlining and Mary Tileston Hemenway Professor in Arts & Sciences and Associate Dean for Faculty Development, Washington University in St. Louis

"By recognizing similarities between very different types of workers--prisoners, graduate student assistants, college athletes, and workfare workers--Erin Hatton illuminates status coercion, a system of labor control that is transforming work and labor in America. Her interviews with such workers vividly reveal how they experience and resist such work."--Arne L. Kalleberg, author of Precarious Lives: Job Insecurity and Well-Being in Rich Democracies

About the Author:

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