Guarding Against Boredom: Security Specialists In The U.S. Air Force

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Journal Of Contemporary Ethnography


Whereas sociologists have attended to the boredom of work created by repetitive task structure in industry, less attention has been given to boring work in which workers spend endless hours “doing nothing with nothing to show for it.” This study of security specialists in the U.S. Air Force provides an in-depth examination of the nature of boredom and workers' response to it in a setting characterized by contingent work, that is, a setting in which there are long periods of waiting between episodes of “real work.” We analyze the sources of boredom on the job, the methods used for coping with boredom, and the social organization of risk taking.

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