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Television at WorkIndustrial Media and American Labor$
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Kit Hughes

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190855789

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190855789.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 03 July 2022

The People’s Network: Soft Management with Satellite Business Television

The People’s Network: Soft Management with Satellite Business Television


(p.164) Chapter 5 The People’s Network: Soft Management with Satellite Business Television
Television at Work

Kit Hughes

Oxford University Press

Chapter 5 (keyword: narrowcasting) explores the development of private satellite networks to manage distributed workforces in the context of globalization and a “cultural turn” in popular management theories. The late 1980s saw the proliferation of industry-focused subscription channels (e.g., geared toward insurers) and internal “networks” housed by a single company (e.g., Hewlett Packard). Two case studies (Johnson Controls and Steelcase) show how businesses used television to target worker identity in a bid to usurp other modes of affiliation (the nation, class) within the unstable employment environment of the 1980s and 1990s. This is the other side of the multichannel era: the creative deployment of employees as niche audiences. At the same time that post-national consumer identities became lucrative as a means of gathering and selling audiences on the diverse products of flexible specialization, proper cultural management of worker identity supported companies’ profit-maximization strategies (often based in cuts to employees’ material welfare).

Keywords:   globalization, narrowcasting, satellite, BTV, satellite business television, management theory, re-engineering, precarity, niche audience, worker identity

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