Stealing TimeThe Temporal Regulation of Labor in Neoliberal and Post-Fordist Work Regime


  • Andrew Stevens
  • David O. Lavin


The construction, commodification, and regulation of time in workplaces should be seen as a political economic process. This article examines the emergence of "time theft" as it arose in a neoliberal ideological climate. The rise of time theft as a new type of crime against capital is contextualized within organizational changes that demarcate neoliberal economies, namely the emphasis on decentralized, post-Fordist, outsourced, and increasingly competitive labor-market conditions. This paper begins by examining the theoretical elements of time theft and moves on to draw from empirical evidence gathered from a case study of an outsourced, non-unionized call center in Ontario, Canada, and explores how workers' time is regulated by management using advanced information and communication technologies. It concludes that despite the gains made by individualized acts of resistance and informal collective resistance by employees in call centers which make the working environment somewhat tolerable, collective resistance through unionization is central to make far-reaching changes in the sector.

Author Biographies

Andrew Stevens

Andrew Stevens is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. He is currently researching the political economy of outsourcing and offshoring of IT work, as well as union organizing within the call center industries in Canada and India.

David O. Lavin

David O. Lavin is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at York University in Toronto, Ontario. He is currently researching trade union convergence in the communications industries and the restructuring ofwork in the twentyfirst century.