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SOC Chap 13 Notes.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Malcolm Mac Kinnon

SOC – Chap 13 Notes: Work and the Economy The Promise and History of Work  Economy: the institution that organizes the production, distribution, and exchange of goods and services. o Primary sector: farming, fishing, logging, mining o Secondary sector: raw materials are turned into finished goods, manufacturing takes place o Tertiary sector: services are bought and sold (ex: nurses, teachers, etc.)  3 revolutionary events have taken place in the history of human labour: the development of agriculture, development of modern industry, and the development of the service sector  Between 10,000 ya and 5,000 ya people stopped living in nomadic tribes and began to herd cattle and grow crops. They invented the plow and productivity soared. o Productivity: the amount produced for every hour of work th o In the late 19 century, Canada was a leader in wheat production, as well as extracting staples like timber, cod, or nickel  Markets: social relations that regulate the exchange of goods and services. Prices of goods and services are established by supply and demand  The computer is to the service sector as the steam engine was to manufacturing and the plow was to agriculture  These revolutions altered the way work was socially organized, increasing the division of labour. Division of labour is the amount of specialized work tasks. Ex: in pre-agrarian society there were only a few jobs: hunting animals, gathering plants, taking care of children, etc. In today’s society there are countless number of specialized jobs  As division of labour increased, work relations become more hierarchical (bureaucratic) Good versus Bad Jobs  Good jobs: pay well, require higher education, not closely supervised, encourage workers to be creative in pleasant surroundings, job security, opportunities for promotion.  Bad jobs: don’t pay much, require little formal education, perform routine tasks under close supervision, unpleasant or dangerous working conditions, can easily be fired and there are few benefits  The Deskilling Thesis: proposed by Harry Braverman, suggests that owners maximize profits by breaking complex tasks into simple routines. This increased division of labour allows 1) machinery to replace workers, 2) less skilled/cheaper labour to be used, and 3) employees to be controlled more directly since less worker discretion is needed  Fordism: a term that refers to mass production, assembly-lime work (after Henry Ford who invented the assembly lime)  Scientific management: developed by Fredrick Taylor to analyze the movements of workers and train them to eliminate unnecessary actions.  It can be argued that the computerization of the office has increased bad jobs, by increasing deskilled work and allowing employees to be monitored more closely  The increasing amount of part-time work is also a concern. Some people enjoy working part-time, but others are forced to do so or would be willing to work more hours if they could. Part-time jobs are usually “bad jobs” which don’t offer much respect  Critiques of the deskilling theory argue that not all jobs are being deskilled, and deskilling may be occurring primarily in jobs that are characteristic of the old economy (assembly-line manufacturing) not of the new economy (informatics)  The deskilling thesis may not hold true because higher skill requirements are required in the service sector, which is the fastest growing sector  It can also be argued that when deskilling of factory and office jobs occurs, some skilled people must be hired to invent, design, advertise, market, install, repair, and so on.  Finding show that computer use at work increases earnings among the better educated but has no impact on earnings among the less educated  this enlarges the number and quality of good jobs but does not improve the quality of bad jobs and reduces their numbers  Producing goods and services, overall, actually requires more skill now because of the complexity of the products we now produce. Thus, the skill of the entire labour process has risen, this skill now resides in managerial and administrative spheres however.  Labour market segmentation: began after WWII and continues till the present, where large businesses emerged (General Motors, Air Canada, etc.) as well as many more small businesses. Different kinds of jobs are associated with large businesses than with small businesses. o Primary labour market: many high skilled, well educated workers. Large companies enjoy high levels of capital investment and work is often unionized. These jobs are very similar to “good jobs” o Secondary labour market: a high number of women, ethnic minorities, and immigr
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