The Sociology of Work: Review Questions to Consider
88 What is meant by the ontological significance of labour? The ontological significance of
labour refers to the interaction between the human species and the natural world
discovering the potentiality that exists within the natural world, as well as developing our
own capacities. Work shapes our life-experiences and our life-chances. It is significant
because it is central to the essence of being human; it [holds] vast potential (14) it is
an essential aspect of human life, is basic to physical existence and creative potential, and
is basic to the production of culture.
89 What aspect of Hegels thought did Marx regard as helpful for a sociological understanding of
90 What are the four dimensions of alienated labour that Marx identified and how is each
91 Marxs theory of alienated labour certainly described workers conditions in the nineteenth
century when people worked long days, six days a week their existence was one of alienation
and immiseration. Does his notion of alienated existence still hold in a world where the work
day is shorter and people work to consume? Why or why not?
The notion of alienation speaks to the idea that the joy and satisfaction in life does not
necessarily come from the end product of the work that you do, but rather from the act of working
itself. According to Hegel, humankind must overcome nave understanding of the world and
progress to Absolute Knowledge. Work is described as reactive, adapting to changes and issues at
the workplace is the essence of humankind. From a philosophical perspective, the self-creation of
humankind should be looked as a process, and the process is the act of working. When you
alienate yourself from this process you lose the true value of what working has to offer you and
you become disconnected from your end product. The devaluation of the human world grows in
direct proportion to the increase in value of the world of things. From an empirical perspective, it
is important to not only see the end product as a commodity, but also the worker as a commodity.
With this information I think that the notion of alienation does still exist because people are
more concerned with working with the expectation of consuming rather than working for the
satisfaction of working. People today are disconnected from the work that they do and are
therefore not benefiting from the process of working that Marx argues is so important.
Work today is considered a way for people to create good lives for themselves and their families,
and contributes to many of the positive experiences people have in their lives. After World War II
laws were created that made it easier for employers to form collective organizations and unions.
Thus, much safer, more stable, and less alienating working conditions were created. Since people
work to consume the problem of workers being separated from the product of their labour is not as
prevalent. The positive impacts of working for a living are more acute in a world that is driven by the desire to consume. There is also more encouragement for unions to function as a collaborative
whole, lessening the problem of the workers being separated from all other workers- from
92 Describe the resources that the employer brings to the employer/employee relationship.
Describe the resources that the employee brings to that relationship.
The resources that the employer brings to the relationship are three of the four major inputs into
an enterprise. These three things are, machinery and technology, raw or partially processed
materials, and a place of work. The employer is also the primary organizer in the production
process, they decide who is hired, what they will make, and how much the workers will earn for a
certain amount of labour.
The fourth major input into and enterprise is provided by the employee and that is labour. The
employee sells their ability or skill to do something to the employer for a certain period of time,
which they are reasonably compensated for.
Resources whom employee possess skills, knowledge and physical ability along with specific motives
-The employer possesses capital and resources as well as specific motives and interests and offers the
worker money, a level of (in) security, status, and some form of employment record or career
93 What were the three main premises upon which Taylor based his theory of Scientific
Management? How did Taylor want to overcome systematic soldiering?
94 What were the long term implications to Taylors principles of scientific management with
respect to planning, worker responsibility, and the deskilling of labour tasks?
The long-term implications of planning are that the task allocator discovers efficient ways to
accomplish the job. The workers responsibility decreases because they are given step-by-step
instructions, which increases the production rate but deskills labour. Deskilling of labour tasks
takes out the thought-provoking aspect of production for the workers in the long run.
The long term implications to Taylors principles of scientific management with respect to
planning, worker responsibility, and the deskilling of labour tasks were that there would be a
reduced size of workforce because of the increase in technology and therefore, there will more
efficiency. Also, head and hand labour would be separated and there would be increased white
collar in the workforce. 95 What is the meaning of dimensional creep and why is it significant? Why are the terms
interchangeability, and standardization critical to Fordism?
Dimensional creep is where each part of a vehicle is not the same
a. In paris before the mass production assembly line, each part of a vehicle was made in
different small shops across paris.
b. Because the shops used different tools and ovens to make the parts of the car, each was
not exactly the same
c. Therefore when it was all assembled, there would need to be filing and fitting done which
equalled to varying amounts of dimensional creep in the final product
d. Therefore no two cars were exactly the same and every vehicle was different in its own
e. This was where highly skilled workers were making unique products that met the
specifications of the owner
Fords success wasnt the many cars that came off the assembly line but the complete and consistent
interchangeablility of parts and the simplicity of attaching them to each other. (because each vehicle
was the same and didnt have to be filed or changed to fit together). Consistency, standardization,
complete interchangeability and simplicity would revolutionize industrial production
They were able to standardize every one of their vehicles because Ford used the newly developed
prehardened metals to eliminate warping
Interchangeability, simplicity and standardization allowed Ford to eliminate the expensive assemblers
96 Was the automated assembly line the key to Fordism? Why or why not? What were labours
three major calculations that facilitated automated, mass production in the auto sector?
The automated assembly line was key to Fordism because it increased production rates, it
facilitated more efficient and increased use of machinery and there was removal of creative and
challenging aspects of production and planning from the workers. Labours three major
calculations were that technology would increase productive capacity but not force workers out of
work, second, as the economy expanded it would create new jobs therefore increasing the size of
the workforce and exert positive pressure on wages and thirdly there would be strong incentives
for worker to form unions.
The automated assembly line was a major revolution at the time of creation by Ford. It allowed for
Ford to control the pace of production, calculate the use of inventory in his factory, provide lower
wages to those with unskilled labour and the employee salary savings were invested in technology
for the factory. The assembly line allowed for the employment of less skilled workers and
increased the importance of regularity in work. The invention of the assembly line also helped
Ford to realized that he can pay the workers more in order for them to be more motivated and
regular at work resulting in a better work performance and increased production and quality of the
products being made. The assembly line allowed Ford to do exactly what he wanted producing
mass products as inexpensive as possible. For these, reasons I believe that the assembly line was
the key to Fordism as it revolutionized the way products can be made and it is still very widely
used today for all products. Labours three major calculations that facilitated automated, mass
production in the auto sector were that an assembler spent 8.6 hours per car. As each assembler
moved to one specific task on the assembly line it was down to
2.3 minutes per car and then 1.9 as assembly line instituted further changes. 97 What was the face of unionized labour in Canada and the US in the 1920s? Why is this
important for workers?
Henry Ford and Fordism were the face of unionized labour in Canada and the US in the 1920s. He
was important because he was able to discover ways in which work productivity would improve
(good for employer) as well as be able to increase wages for the workers (good for employees). He
did this with methods such as assembly lines and the task idea.
Male, blue collar, assembly line workers became the face of unionized labour in the 20s. the
significance of this is that it allows people from the outside to see the actual wo