Theory and Society

, Volume 48, Issue 5, pp 709–732 | Cite as

Recruitment: an undertheorized mechanism for workplace control

  • Brian W. HalpinEmail author
  • Vicki Smith


It has been nearly half a century since the publication of Harry Braverman’s Labor and Monopoly Capital. That, along with Michael Burawoy’s subsequent interrogation of Braverman—Manufacturing Consent—set the terms for a robust and enduring research agenda that has focused on labor processes: the deskilling of work, managerial control over workers, consent, and the extraction of surplus value. This article endeavors to advance the labor process paradigm by highlighting recruitment as a tool by which employers maximize the likelihood that they will hire people who will consent to their objectives, broadly defined. Drawing on a broad range of literatures, we show how recruitment and hiring practices constitute part of an overarching apparatus of control wherein managers imagine that particular people will be ideal for particular jobs and positions. We conclude by sketching a research agenda that sociologists of work and labor processes might undertake in order to understand these issues more thoroughly.


Consent Employment Ideal worker Labor process Recruitment Workplace control 



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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

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