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The Missing Customer and the Ever-Present Market: Software Developers and the Service Economy
Ó Riain, Seán
Although some software engineers and developers work directly with the final users of their product to generate customized software, many do not. However, drawing on an ethnographic study of software developers in a U.S. firm in Ireland, this article argues that both software developers who work closely with customers and those who do not can be thought of as “service workers.” The article extends the analysis of the “service triangle” of workers, managers, and customers to software workers who interact with customers in the software development and support process. It then uses the case of software workers who do not interact with customers to rethink our definition of what counts as service work. For these workers, the customer also looms large in the workplace—but only as an abstract entity to which they should respond and be attentive, mobilized through organizational mechanisms that transmit and simulate market pressures rather than through concrete interactions with customers themselves. The irony is that an organization of production that mobilizes the customer as the driving force of the production process ultimately, and largely unintentionally, marginalizes the customer as irrational and incompetent—an outsider in the service economy, with little input into the technologies they end up using.
Keyword(s): Sociology; software; service work; markets; professional work; knowledge economy
Publication Date:
Type: Journal article
Peer-Reviewed: Yes
Institution: Maynooth University
Citation(s): Ó Riain, Seán (2010) The Missing Customer and the Ever-Present Market: Software Developers and the Service Economy. Work and Occupations, 37 (3). pp. 320-348. ISSN 0730-8884
Publisher(s): Sage Publications
File Format(s): other
Related Link(s):
First Indexed: 2015-01-25 05:16:52 Last Updated: 2018-02-28 06:05:54