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No Name or Bar Code Only

Sample Paper 2 by Tamison Kilmer - Winter 2011

Often times you find yourself having to deal with customer service representative either over the phone or in person. You are asked a series of questions to prove your identity so you may inquire about your accounts. No longer do the banks or companies have any personal ties with you. The customer is now either a bar code or a name flashing on the screen. Most if not all big corporations are set up bureaucratically. Each worker has their defined role and what tasks they are to accomplish within that bureaucracy. With more and more companies outsourcing their customer service departments for cheaper labor; Americans are searching for that personable touch to their daily business interactions that were there in yesteryear.

Bureaucracies have become a powerful social organization. It dominates our social life. Major corporations in America have adapted the bureaucratic format. Corporate America found that the five characteristics of a bureaucracy was a good business model. Henslin (P. 124-125) describes bureaucracy that have clear levels with assignments flowing downward and accountability flowing upward, a division of labor, written rules, written communications and records, and finally impersonality and replaceability. Corporate America has a CEO who is the figurehead for the corporation. There are the Vice Presidents, Regional Presidents, middle management and then it dwindles down to the peon that is taking the customer service calls in the call center. Most, if not all, communication between the CEO and the peon is through generic all company emails or bulletins. It is very impersonal and very efficient, what better way to announce layoffs than a mass email?

With this impersonal form of communication, it leaves a void in the employee. Corporate America has taken the individuality of an employee and replaced it with a droid. Each cubicle is the same; each office setting has the same brown carpet and beige walls. An employee of this bureaucratic form can become very alienated and depressed. Their cubicles being less space than that of a prison cell, employees find ways to personalize their space. With the increasing gnawing feeling that they are no longer valued; they are an ID numbers or just another replaceable body in a cubicle. Employees are banding together. Employees need to feel validation and feel as if they have some control over their work. Many corporate employees turn to one another for that validation.

As an employee of a major corporation I know all too well how employees of corporate America are feeling. I too seek that validation from my co-workers. Validation that the job I do daily makes a difference in someone's life, that I don't just go to work to fund the CEO's bonus. In our department we have been on continuous overtime since 2008. Each and every time a coworker has broken down and left the company for another corporate American company still believing that it would be different there, we have absorbed their work. No replacement for that cubicle dweller. The bottom line looks much better when you have a lean working model. As the hiring freeze continues, we fall deeper and deeper into bureaucratic alienation and resisting that alienation is getting harder and harder.

No longer is the occasional lunch room vent enough for employees. The occasional vents are turning into daily bitch sessions. It is no longer staying within their departments. They are going on the web to voice their disdain about their employers. Many websites have the same message, "Corporate America is failing Americans". Take for example the website www.bankofamericasucks.com , http://www.hel-mart.com , and http://www.complaintsboard.com . Many employees echo the same thing, corporate America can careless about its employees, clients and the American people. They are not the only ones with these sentiments.
" The profits of American corporations are soaring," writes Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor for Bill Clinton," ... largely because sales from their foreign-based operations are booming ... It's also because they've cut their costs of production in the US ... American-based companies have become global--making and selling all over the world--so their profitability has little or nothing to do with the number and quality of jobs here in the U.S. In fact, it may be inversely related." He cautions Obama: "the President must not be seduced into believing--and must not allow the public to be similarly seduced into thinking--that the well-being of American business is synonymous with the well-being of Americans."

More Americans are fed up with the constantly living in fear of being replaced. Americans are looking for not only employers but local companies and banks that know who they are. That looks beyond the badge or barcode. Americans desire days of yonder when an employer took care of its employee. Hopefully, this is something America can see again.

Works Cited
"Killing the American Dream: Bureaucracy conquers small business." Herald Net [Chicago, IL] 17 Oct. 2010: Web. 1 Jan. .http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20101017/BIZ/710179971

Henslin, James M., ed. Essentials of Sociology A down to earth approach. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 2009. Print.

Rosenberg, Eli. "Rape of the Union." Atlantic Wire 25 Jan. 2011: Web. 6 Feb. 2011. http://www.hhttp://www.theatlanticwire.com/opinions/view/opinion/Rape-of-the-Union-Corporate-Profits-and-Lost-Jobs-6701eraldnet.com/article/20101017/BIZ/710179971.