Technical writing, rhetoric, unions, anti union rhetoric, rhetorical analysis, mcdonald's, wal mart, starbucks, panera, whole foods, publix, service workers, training
This is an interdisciplinary master's level thesis that explores links among technical writing, training manuals, surveillance, and anti-union rhetoric used with service workers in select American chains and franchises. Brief histories are provided, including those of technical writing, the rise of unions in America, and how technical writing became inextricably linked with labor. A major shift occurred in the 20th century when workers began interacting less with products and more with the public. The research focuses on training manuals, techniques, and rehearsed dialogues of McDonald's, Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Whole Foods, Panera, and Publix, though similar organizations are referenced. Service worker language, uniforms, and store decorum are sometimes analyzed for their rhetorical content. The idea of a single, technically written training manual in the service sector is a misnomer; training is delivered through a pastiche of manuals, videos, computers, apps, flipcharts, and on the job training. Unions are avoided through franchising (and therefore eat outlet not possessing enough workers to organize), creating conditions of high turnover rates, rhetoric, and use of euphemism. Global corporations are likened to "superfiefdoms," with service workers equated to modern serfs. If the world has evolved into supercorporations, it is argued then that the Publix employee-owned model may be the best approach and the most dignified of all. The technical writing and instruction in state-sponsored and federalized school pedagogies, which emphasize drills and compliance, may be culturally linked to the training found in these entry-level service jobs, and more academic study exploring these links is called for.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Graduate Studies
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Ries, Richard, "The State of the Anti-Union Address: A Rhetorical Critique of Select Service Worker Training Methods" (2014). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 1299.