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Abstract

This article focuses on the ongoing outsourcing process of a production activity in a nuclear plant and aims to study how this affects work and associated temporalities. The industry, and the nuclear sector is no exception, is witnessing a growing use of outsourcing, accompanied by an increased fragmentation of work. While the outsourcing of maintenance activities or of certain specific activities (decommissioning, clean-up) has been the subject of research, the outsourcing of a production activity remains poorly documented. Our study, situated close to the production activity in a nuclear plant workshop, enables to highlight three main findings. Firstly, we show that the outsourcing process leads to an increased visibility of the production activity, which is a source of tensions between client and contractor. Secondly, outsourcing generates inter-temporal conflicts between continuous and discrete times, but also between the short time of carrying out the activity and the long time of learning. Thirdly, the study reveals that outsourcing engages actors in a normalization process of the activity as a way of partially resolving inter-temporal tensions.

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