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Cashiers’ work-time : Between a productivity mentality and a service mentality - S. Bernard

Sophie Bernard
Institutions et dynamiques de l’économie, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Maison Max-Weber, université Paris-X, 200, avenue de-la-République, 92000 Nanterre, France

Available online 21 December 2007 on ScienceDirect

At first sight, the work-time put in by cashiers at checkout counters seems homogeneous, continuous and repetitive. An empirical study of hypermarket cashiers in France shows, on the contrary, that the time spent working is relatively discontinuous and diversified. It is similar to the time on the job put in by semiskilled workers in industry. What characterizes cashiers’ work is their having to manage flows of both products and customers. Their work-time can, therefore, be understood as a compromise that comes out of balancing productivity with human relations, a compromise that sometimes causes conflict. By acquiring an “incorporated know-how”, cashiers manage to fill their assignment.

Keywords : Work-time ; Fluidity principle ; Cashiers ; Service mentality ; France

Article Outline

  • 1. Computerization and work pace
    • 1.1. Computerization and the crackdown on “dead” or non-productive time
    • 1.2. The “right pace” : between product flow and customer flow
  • 2. Incorporated know-how
    • 2.1. Quick hiring and training
    • 2.2. Incorporated know-how
  • 3. Technical and organization-related incidents
    • 3.1. The fluidity principle
    • 3.2. Technical incidents, organization-related interruptions and human errors
  • 4. Economizing one’s effort
    • 4.1. Some workstations are more tiring than others
    • 4.2. Some moments are more tiring than others
    • 4.3. Activity pace
  • 5. Conclusion
  • References

Sociologie du Travail
Volume 49, Supplement 2, December 2007, Pages e129–e144
Translation by Amy Jacob