What do prisoner laborers, graduate students, welfare workers, and college athletes have in common? According to sociologist Erin Hatton, they are all part of a growing workforce of coerced laborers.
Coerced explores this world of coerced labor through an unexpected and compelling comparison of these four groups of workers, for whom a different definition of "employment" reigns supreme—one where workplace protections do not apply and employers wield expansive punitive power, far beyond the ability to hire and fire. Because such arrangements are common across the economy, Hatton argues that coercion—as well as precarity—is a defining feature of work in America today.
Theoretically forceful yet vivid and gripping to read,
Coerced compels the reader to reevaluate contemporary dynamics of work, pushing beyond concepts like "career" and "gig work." Through this bold analysis, Hatton offers a trenchant window into this world of work from the perspective of those who toil within it—and who are developing the tools needed to push back against it.
Erin Hatton is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University at Buffalo.