The indeterminacy of ‘temporariness’: Control and power in neo-bureaucratic organizations and work in UK television

Catherine Farrell, Jonathan Morris, Mike Reed

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    Whereas historically the UK television industry has been characterized by hierarchy and vertical integration of programme production within a few large broadcasters, new neo-bureaucratic temporary organizational forms have proliferated in the industry in the past 20 years. This has been a product of a variety of factors, including globalization, technological change in the industry, deregulation and cost-cutting. This article draws on research involving 75 participants working in the large broadcasters, independents and as freelancers. The temporary form in the industry is an extreme case, in that they can be of very short duration (under a week). This has far-reaching implications for industry coordination and control. However, these forms are far from ‘one-offs’ and they are continuously reinvented and recast. This neo-bureaucratic form is controlled and regulated by the major producers through a set of powerful normative methods, based partly on an evolving custom and practice, but also in the extreme familiarity of people in the industry, across the large broadcasters, the independents and freelancers. The article evaluates how the structures, processes and coordination of these organizations through the manipulation of social capital in the industry are used to regulate and control a set of confused and ‘messy’ temporary arrangements.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2274-2297
    Number of pages24
    JournalHuman Relations
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2016


    • contingent work
    • television industry
    • temporary
    • neo bureaucratic
    • Work organizational forms
    • social capital


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