Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Betwixt and between: Temporary employees as liminal subjects in flexible organizations
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology. Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
1999 (English)In: Organization Studies, ISSN 0170-8406, E-ISSN 1741-3044, Vol. 20, no 4, 601-617 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

As organizations change to become more flexible and transient, the use of a flexible workforce becomes an attractive solution. Temporary employees are here tentatively viewed as being `betwixt and between' organizational structures, in transit between the relatively fixed positions of full-time, regular employment. Building on previous fieldwork and recent interviews among temporary employees in Sweden and the US, the notion of liminality is employed to explore aspects of temporary work. The liminal position of `temporaries', it is suggested, is an ambiguous position involving both risks and opportunities for individuals, temporary staffing agencies, and client organizations alike. It may be seen as a seedbed of cultural creativity, where old perspectives on work and subjectivity are contested and new ones created. Related to the transient, mobile character of temporary employment, is an enhanced awareness of substitutability and a continuous reflexive monitoring of manners and competencies. Furthermore, the mobile and temporary character of assignments lead to the development of transient and episodic imagined communities of the workplace.

Through the lens of liminality then, temporal and contractual flexibilization of work is seen to challenge the old boundaries of industrial society and to suggest new ways of organizing and experiencing work, as well as new ways of constructing organizational subjectivity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
1999. Vol. 20, no 4, 601-617 p.
Keyword [en]
temporary agency work, liminality, flexibility, worklife
National Category
Social Anthropology
Research subject
Social Anthropology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-65403DOI: 10.1177/0170840699204004OAI: diva2:463152
Available from: 2011-12-08 Created: 2011-12-08 Last updated: 2011-12-20Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Other links

Publisher's full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Garsten, Christina
By organisation
Department of Social AnthropologyStockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE)
In the same journal
Organization Studies
Social Anthropology

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Altmetric score

Total: 70 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link