Accueil > English Supplement > Volume 48, Supplement 1 > Factory “Homers” : Understanding a Highly Elusive, Marginal, and Illegal (...)

Factory “Homers” : Understanding a Highly Elusive, Marginal, and Illegal Practice - M. Anteby

Michel Anteby
Management & Organizations Department, New York University, 44 West 4th Street, Suite 7-152 New York, NY 10012, USA
Centre de Sociologie des Organisations (CSO-FNSP/CNRS), 19, rue Amelie, 75007 Paris, France
Laboratoire de Sciences Sociales (LSS-ENS-EHESS), 48, boulevard Jourdan 75014 Paris, France

Available online 26 July 2006 on ScienceDirect
doi:10.1016/j.soctra.2006.02.003

Abstract
A “homer” is an artifact that a worker produces using company tools and materials outside normal production plans but at the workplace and during workhours. Despite legal, artistic and ethnographic evidence of their existence, silence surrounds homers. Along with this evidence, interviews conducted mostly with retirees from a French aeronautics plant are used to show that this silence is not linked just to the marginal and illegal quality of these artifacts. Homers shed light on a high degree of “complicity” between employees regardless of their position in the hierarchy. Since the factory’s institutional framework has little room for this complicity, the silence surrounding homers is a sign probably of an inability to talk about them rather than of their marginality or illegality.

Keywords : Industrial sociology ; Clandestine work ; ‘Homer’ ; Silence ; France

Article Outline

  • 1. Delimiting the object and traces of its existence
    • 1.1. Homers, “Bricole”, “Bousille”, “Pinaille”…
    • 1.2. Legal traces
    • 1.3. Artistic traces
    • 1.4. Biographical and ethnographic traces
  • 2. Data to estimate a frequency of homer making
    • 2.1. A repeated history of penalization
    • 2.2. Statistical data on a more contemporary practice
  • 3. Talking/Not talking about homers at Pierrville
    • 3.1. Giggles, silences and denials
    • 3.2. Multiple complicities around homers
    • 3.3. Regulating aspects of homers in workshops
  • 4. Conclusion
  • Appendix A. Details of Workshop Codes of Conduct Sample
  • References

Sociologie du Travail
Volume 48, Supplement 1, August 2006, Pages e22–e38
Translated by the author himself