American Government and Politics

Big-box Retail Workers, the Great Resignation, and the Anti-work Movement


  • Noah Shuster New School for Social Research & Brooklyn College


For my PhD dissertation work with Prof. Jessica Pisano at the New School for Social Research, I immersed myself in Walmart and Target stores in an upstate New York region. I grew up in this area and worked at both Walmart and Target; I have family and friends that are still working retail in the area. I collected twenty seven in-depth interviews with retail workers in the surrounding area. ‘The Great Resignation’ trend of recent years has been largely defined by workers quitting jobs like big-box retail. The worker narratives of critique, resistance, and desertion that I have gathered echo this trend. The Anti-work Movement blossoming online provides insight into these workers’ otherwise hidden transcript of dissent, alongside narratives from interviews and other online communities of worker dissent. Workers regain senses of dignity and respect as they desert retail. Infrapolitics, New Labor History, and workplace sociology provide supporting literature.


Thumbnail image of APSA Antiwork Paper.pdf


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