A market in the making : sociomaterial enactment of the graduate labour market
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This thesis is about the graduate labour market. More specifically, this thesis deploys a market studies approach to examine how the graduate labour market is assembled in one specific instance: graduate recruitment program in the technology department of an international financial services corporation, GlobalFinCo. Based on fieldwork comprising 30 hours of observation, 20 in-depth interviews, dozens of shorter conversations, email communications, relevant documentation and online materials on the subject of graduate recruitment, and a diffractive (Barad, 2007) reading of empirical and theoretical materials, my study reveals that great efforts go into enacting the graduate labour market. Though they often remain, or are deliberately rendered, invisible, these efforts have material ethical and political effects. Drawing on market studies, I argue that the unfolding of the graduate recruitment process in the empirical site that I studied, GlobalFinCo, constituted an instance of assembling a politicised market order. I mobilise the concept of care to suggest that this assemblage is not ad-hoc and accidental, nor simply a manifestation of adversarial relations of capital and labour, but a provisional stabilisation of a multiplicity of efforts, agendas, and actions performed by a heterogeneous cast of actors. This study contributes to the labour market scholarship by indicating how a market studies approach can be usefully deployed to examine the enactment of market politics in concrete empirical settings. At the same time, this empirical account of the efforts and care that go into constructing and maintaining this assemblage offers a counterpoint to the critiques of market studies’ inability to properly tackle the political relations inherent in markets. As such, through telling a “care-infused market tale” (de Wilde, 2020: 1), this study offers a contribution to the ongoing project of politicising market studies.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 25th February 2023
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