Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationRice U.
Grant numberGr. 9972
Approve DateAugust 26, 2020
Project TitleGershon, Ilana (Rice U.) "The Social Life of Employment Contracts"
ILANA GERSHON, Rice University, Houston, Texas, was awarded a grant in August 2020 to aid research on ‘The Social Life of Employment Contracts.’ In this research project, retitled The Pandemic Workplace, the grantee explores how the US workplace has become a key site in which Americans develop their political imagination of what it means to be a democratic citizen, addressing what the pandemic has revealed about how the workplace functions as site of private government. Workplaces are the contemporary site through which Americans learn through lived experience what it means to be governed and to govern other people in the interests of a larger group. The research addresses the complexities of learning fundamental lessons about governing through how today’s workplaces organize control, authority, and decision-making. In the context of the pandemic, many Americans began to interpret workplace interactions through classic social contract theory, returning to foundational questions about the sacrifices asked of individuals for the common good, and what democratic participation should look like in deliberative decision-making processes. The grantee ultimately argues that what the pandemic and our current political climate reveals is an urgent need to see contemporary American workplaces as laboratories of different approaches to democratic practices that can demonstrate to American workers the value and effectiveness of participating in a deliberative democracy.