SOC101Y1 Lecture Notes - Deskilling, Blue-Collar Worker, Sigmund Freud

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9 Feb 2013
FEB 4th 2013
SOC207 Lecture 5
The Labour Process: Control over Work and Workers
The Labour Process : how labour is used to produce goods and services
1. Allocation of labor to different aspects of production/service
- How certain jobs are assigned to others
- Workers negotiate what it looks like, individually or through unions
2. The use of technology
- The assembly line > the rise of Fordism
- The use of computers in the labour process ; mobile community
3. Intensity of effort
- The degree of effort and piece of effort they seek from the employees
(how fast and how hard you work)
- The degree of effort given by the employees themselves
Focus of labour process theory:
labor process as employers’ efforts to determine who does which kind of work and how
they use technology and workers’ responses to these decisions
power of the employer to make decisions about production but workers’ also respond
to employers’ efforts
***all about the relationship between the products
Assumptions of Labour Process Theory
Influence of Marxist concepts of power, conflict, control and resistance
- Focused with class and inequality
- Trying to explain workplace changes and settings through the
organization efficiency (power and neutral approach)
- Showed how power relations are important to understand how
workplaces are organized
- Not just about power and efficiency, also about control
- The rise of the service sector: contemporary relationships
- Marx only saw two classes: owners of production and workers of
- Understanding how relationships work around labor protection, how
labour protects itself through for example labour unions
Power: workers and managers/supervisors have different interests and concerns.
And there is inequality between them because employers have more power than
- both groups had different interests, concerns about work
- Inequality, employers had powers over employees in terms of interest
Conflict: worker does not receive the profit that they generate. Instead it goes to the
The value of a product was defined by the labour used to define that product
Workers sin a capitalist economy, produced way more than it is
required to pay their wages > over production
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FEB 4th 2013
Surplus values, the value over and above what is needed to make the
product itself
Workers are exploited because they are not getting excess to the
surplus value
Capitalism: the maximize profit, minimize cost and benefits
Reduce the cost of labour, layoff workers, keep them
Workers then want to just produce enough to receive their
base wage, yet employers want them to over work and create
surplus/profitable products
Conflict of interests
Exploitation of workers’ labour
Control: Managers/supervisors try to control when where and how workers do
their jobs.
e.g., clock to regulate time
- Easy under Freudism, slaves, but it was legal for this
- We are free to work for our employer of choice
- Loyalty > keeping workers loyal and having them not leave
Resistance: workers resist managerial control, sometimes by organizing collectively
into unions other times in more individualistic ways
- For Marx this is inevitable
1. The owners of production and the workers would come to realize the
imbalance of power, the workers would overthrow the owners
(though this did not really occur)
Disregard orders
Sabotage, of machines, take home supplies (paper/pens)
Redefine how they interpret their situation (form of psychological resistance)
Who does what and how hard
Hard work, high productivity … but not much benefits for the
workers, as they are still getting paid the same amount
Braverman: the Degradation of work
Argued that Taylorism was at the center of all management styles under monopoly
large companies owning the majority of the smaller companies, nationally
and internationally, having control over the cost, and benefits …etc.
Government regulations
The growth of technologies
Labour and the labour process itself has become much more standardized
Braverman: the idea that come form Marx is still used and seen in modern
Taylorism is a method of controlling the LP:
Scientific management: the control component of the labour process,
fragmentation and
1. Separate work from skills from workers
- Shift decision making from workers to management
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