”They´ll Go On To Get Real Jobs”: The Transitional Contract Between the Core and Student Workers in Retail

Vesa Leppänen, Ann-Mari Sellerberg

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In recent years it has become more usual for students to work while they are at university. Many of them take jobs in retail, and most stay a while before proceeding to other professions. This article examines the social relationships between core retail employees and students. The empirical data consists of 39 interviews with owners, managers, and employees at ten supermarkets in southern Sweden. The relationship between the core and student workers result in a particular form of social contract, a transitional contract, in which both parties expect that students as a matter of course are only temporary staff. This transitional contract is evident in the supermarkets’ organisation, with students working different working hours and having different tasks than the core. At the same time, their daily work offers the opportunity to move beyond the transitional contract to closer relationships with co-workers. This gives rise to a special social dynamic in which both groups distance themselves from one another. This distancing is understood here to be a defence mechanism, avoiding engagement that might threaten to disappoint both the core employees and the students. It is also be an obstacle to recruiting students to the core.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019-Aug-21
Event14th Conference of the European Sociological Association - University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 2019-Aug-202019-Aug-23


Conference14th Conference of the European Sociological Association
Abbreviated titleESA 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
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  • Social Sciences (5)

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