a paragraph I should add towards the end of my paper next weekend
Before I conclude, I should make a point to indicate some directions for future research. The fight against featherbedding cannot be understood except against the background of the large literature on Taylorism and the history of management. The arguments I have made here should be put in dialogue with the work of scholars like Daniel Nelson, Stephen Waring, Sanford Jacoby, and Richard Gillespie; the vast literature of post-Braverman studies; and newer interventions on left Taylorism and underemphasized impact of Elton Mayo. Featherbedding was part and parcel of the discourse of development that wedded the New Deal state to a very particular vision of growth and international competition; the history of featherbedding discourse can be usefully situated alongside recent works in the intellectual history of development, such as those of Nils Gilman and David Engerman. Much of the artillery ultimately deployed in the fight against featherbedding was forged during the fights against labor racketeering and corruption: this could be developed along the lines proposed by Andrew Wender Cohen and David Witwer. Featherbedding needs to be contextualized within the history of science and medicine, from the battles over occupational safety and the long-running quest to rid the workforce of malingerers and “ergophobes.” The history of featherbedding discourse also overlaps with newer works in cultural history on slacking and failure, from Robin D.G. Kelley on shiftlessness as an idiom of protest to recent texts like Tom Lutz’s Doing Nothing and Jack Halberstam’s The Queer Art of Failure. A recent reading of theoretical works like Simon Morgan Wortham’s The Poetics of Sleep, Ann Cvetovich’s Depression: A Public Feeling (particularly the sections on “acedia”), and Bruno Bosteels on the figure of beggar in the literature of capitalism also suggest fruitful varieties of interdisciplinary cross-pollination. The fight against featherbedding was a thoroughly gendered affair; without a feminist reading of the fantasies and anxieties surrounding the emasculated and ennervated worker, we do not really understand featherbedding at all. Finally, race is ever-present in the anti-featherbedding crusades: as David Roediger and Elizabeth Esch suggest in The Production of Difference, the history of US managerial thought is the history of bizarre and entirely fabricated but nevertheless influential racialized renderings of genetic biodiversity. Attending to these topics will, of course, be the main business of the next step of this research project.