Things at work: Informal social-material mechanisms for getting the job done

Harvey Molotch, Noah McClain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Through interviews and field observations, we examine how New York subway workers consume official workplace equipment, particularly how they informally deploy such artifacts towards individual and collective ends. We discuss the ways workers call on artifacts to manage routine concerns of work contexts - physical vulnerabilities, bureaucratic constraints, and difficult persons amongst them. We show how sustained attention to a public infrastructure and its organizational contexts can deepen understanding of humans and machines together as a coherent practical accomplishment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-67
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Consumer Culture
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2008


  • Consumption
  • Infrastructure
  • Materiality
  • Subways
  • Transit
  • Work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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