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SOCC58H3 (5)

Globalization or varieties of capitalism

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Dennis Wall

SOCC33 - Outline 6 April Globalization or varieties of capitalism? Challenges and prospects Readings: Swedberg, R. 2003. “Economic Organization.” In Principles of Economic Sociology, pp. 53-73. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press. Glyn, A. 2006. “Labour’s Retreats”. In Capitalism Unleashed: Finance, Globalization, and Welfare, pp.104-128. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. I. Globalization and capitalism (Swedberg article) Sweberg deals with the structure of a contemporary form of economic organization, namely capitalism Capitalism: an organization of economic interests that allows for the “the pursuit of profit, and forever renewed profit” - all economies involve production, distribution, and consumption - the key to the different ways of organizing the economy is distribution - distribution can take one of three forms: i.- redistribution ii.- reciprocity iii.- exchange 1 Capitalism compared with other distributive systems Swedberg, p. 58. Different types of capitalisms (Weber) Swedberg, p. 61 2 II. Labour under global capitalism Glyn - “Labour’s Retreats” - why have the less skilled been falling behind in terms of jobs, especially in Europe? - three important influences: i.- technical progress favoring the employment of skilled workers ii.- the displacement of low skilled manufacturing by imports from the low-wage South and iii.- the less qualified being ‘bumped down’ off the jobs ladder as weak demand for labour overall allowed employers to be more choosy and recruit better qualified workers for what had previously been jobs open to the least qualified (over-educated workers) III. Degradation of work and deskilling Harry Braverman “Labour and Monopoly Capitalism”: 20th-century capitalism as different from the mode of production examined by Marx: - a relatively small number of huge, powerful corporations now controlled the national and international economies - the role of the state in the production process had expanded - new technologies had evolved, workplace bureaucracies had become larger, and the labour process itself had become increasingly standardized - Taylorist tendencies at the heart of all modern management approaches Example critique of ‘knowledge work’ - no longer a guarantee of success - a global mass market in unskilled labour is being replaced by a market in middle-class work 3 - outsourcing of routine white-collar ‘back office’ jobs was once routine - now the middle office is going that route too - the export of ‘knowledge work’ - ‘knowledge skills’ are going the way of craft skills (deskilling) - ‘digital Taylorism’ - outsourcing and off-shoring of high tech knowledge work Criticisms of Braverman (misplaced?) i. Braverman over-generalized from scattered evidence in North America to assert that deskilling was a universal pattern present in all occupations within all industrial capitalist societies - cultural differences in the labour process were ignored - overlooked the new skills that were required in industrial and postindustrial economies ii. Braverman makes no of workers resisting management iii. Braverman does not deal with the rising incidence of flex work, part-time work, and low-wage work - i.e. growing levels of job insecurities - the precariat - precarious work / precariat
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