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SOC227H5 Chapter Notes -Harry Braverman, Labour Power, Scientific Management

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Gregory Bird

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The Degradation of Work in the 20th Century
Harry Braverman
Scientific Management
Scientific movement initiated by Frederick Taylor
Taylorism belongs to chain of development of management methods and
organization of labour, not to develop of technology (played a minor role)
Scientific management is an attempt to apply methods of science to complex
problems of control of labour in growing capitalist markets
o Lacks characteristics of true science because its assumptions reflect on the
outlook of the capitalist with regard to conditions of production
o Starts from management (capitalist) point of view of a rebellious workforce
in setting of aggressive social relations
o **It enters the workplace not as the representative of science, but as the
representative of management masquerading in the trappings of science
Taylor dealt with fundamentals of organization of labour process and of control
over it
o Control has been the essential feature of management but with Taylor, it
assumed unprecedented dimensions
o Stages of management control over labour before Taylor included gathering
together of workers in a workshop and also dictation of working day
o Taylors idea of control- an absolute necessity for adequate management
the dictation to the worker of the precise manner in which work is to be
performed; management had right to control labour before Taylor
A fair days work according to Taylor- all the work a worker can do without injury
to his health, at a pace that can be kept up throughout the day
Maximum/optimum that can be obtained for a days labour power; biggest
obstacle in achieving this is slow pace at which workers adopt
o Natural instinct and tendency of men to take it easy (natural soldiering)
o Intricate thought and reasoning caused by their relations with other men
(systematic soldiering); what they think will promote their best interests
Regardless of productivity, pay of labour is a socially determined figure which is
similar for similar types of jobs
Not rewarded in terms of pay for increased productivity so might as well work at a
normal pace (at their best interests)
**workers who are controlled only by general orders and discipline are not
adequately controlled, because they retain their girp on the actual processes of
o control of labour process must pass into hands of management
First Principle
the managers assume the burden of gathering together all of the traditional
knowledge which in the past has been possessed by the workmen and then of
classifying, tabulating, and reducing this knowledge to rules, laws
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