Chapter 9: CAGE (S) and Paid Work
Paid Work: exchange relationship
Garment industry is bad and garment work is hard.
Managers and owners exploit workers in a quest to maximize productivity and
profits, and there is always pressure to produce more.
Managers control their workers by restricting those who sign grievances and by
eliminating or moving „problem‟ workers to different departments or jobs;
supervising work closely and limiting employees contact with each other.
Practice of hiring least expensive worker to maximize company‟s profit has a long
history in the garment industry.
Women and immigrant workers are disproportionately represented in this
industry: they are paid less.
Jobs within the industry are segregated along gender lines (women make up 88-
96% of 3 lowest paid occupations in the garment industry); ethnic groups (in
particular shops, with higher wages being paid in shops where most of the
workers are French Canadian).
Employers replace older workers with younger workers who are less expensive to
maximize their company‟s profit and reduce labour expense. Since, older workers
will not be able to produce equal quantity of work as younger workers can.
Issues that can be used to classify jobs as relatively good or bad:IMPORTANT!
Physical environments of workplaces vary considerably: people
employed in good jobs experience comfort at work, and low risk of
workplace injuries or illness whereas, bad jobs often have uncomfortable
and dangerous or unhealthy physical environments.
Jobs vary in the intrinsic rewards that are derived from them: unlike bad
jobs, good jobs tend to be intrinsically rewarding because they are
challenging and are characterized by high levels of autonomy and low
levels of alienation.
Extrinsic awards such as high pay, good benefits, and job security and
promotion opportunities are associated with good jobs.
Autonomy: ability of workers to make their own decisions about how to do the
work, how fast to do it and what needs to be done. It refers to the control that
workers have over their work processes.
Alienation: The sense that we have lost control over social institutions that we
have created. Often characterized as estrangement from the self and from the
society as a whole. Marx believed that general alienation was rooted in the loss of
control on the part of workers over the nature of the labor task, and over the
products of their labor. Ideology of capitalism suggests that good and bad jobs are distributed on the basis
of individual merit.
Good jobs are reserved for highly educated, more skilled workers whose
contributions to economic activities are considered more valuable than the
contributions that other makes….Inequality in this outcome of paid work seems
Capitalism is nan economic system that organizes processes of production
according to the following characteristics:
Private ownership and control of means of production by few people.
Continuous growth such that owner of capital continually strive to increase
Exploitation: owners of capital profit at the expense of workers.
Labour-wage exchanges: workers act as free agents in selling their labour
power to capitalists in exchange for a wage
Commodity exchange that takes place in free markets, subject to supply
and demand which in turn regulates economic activity.
Karl Marx was first to recognize that capitalism is also a social system in which
production processes are organized according to the social relations of production.
The social and economic organization of the processes of production results in a
continuum of good and bad jobs.
He also argued that as capitalism evolved, proliferation of bad jobs will exist
resulting from an increasing polarization of workers into two classes: proletariat
Polarization would involve:
Reduction in proportion of small business owners and shrinking of old-
Increasing proportion of income going to the owners of large businesses
and reduction in earnings of middle-class workers.
Continued deskilling of work and increase in the alienation of workers.
Canada’s class and occupational structure
4 Classes: IMPORTANT!!!
Capitalist executive class: controls labour power of others and means of
Old middle class: controls means of production but not the labour power
New middle class: controls labour power of others but not the means of
Working class: no control over means of production and labour power of
others. Since early 1900s the proportion of Canada‟s class structure comprising small
business owners declined.
Increase in proportion of employed Canadians in the old middle class have been
mixed (positive and negative) --- small business owners.
Positive: small business owners are free of control of large capitalist
enterprises and as a result, have more autonomy and other intrinsic awards
associated with their work. Their work is less alienating.
Negative: rise of small business owners is the result of globalization and
workplace restructuring where workers lose their jobs and are forced to
earn a living without some of the extrinsic rewards of employment in large
Dramatic increase in female labour-force participation rate. Dramatic increase
began after 1961.
Women did not enter the labour force on an equal footing with men. Their social-
class positions, occupations and industries they worked in were structured by
Women were underrepresented in all occupations that involved decision making
and authority, regardless of whether they work full time or part time.
Increase in self-employed women. Nature of work among self-employed women
is different than of men.
Women who work for pay are concentrated in particular occupations and
industries. Women’s jobs are more highly concentrated in health care and
social assistance, service producing, and educational service in industrial sectors
of the economy. Men’s jobs are highly concentrated in the goods-producing and
Historically, member of British and Jewish English-speaking groups have
dominated the professional, managerial and elite occupation and have been
employed in primary labour markets (a pool of good jobs characterized by high
pay, good benefits, and job security).
Although this domination has declined, ethnicity still influences class and
occupational structures even when education, age, and place of birth are taken
Ethnic and racial minority groups (exception: Jewish) are underrepresented
among upper and middle class and overrepresented in the working class.
Members of visible minority underrepresented in professional and managerial
Age also structures paid work. Younger workers are disproportionately less well
represented among the self-employed. Younger workers tend to be segregated in low-paid, often part-time, service sector
jobs even though they have educational attainment rates higher than those of
previous cohorts (associates).
The cumulative advantage/disadvantage hypothesis: argues that individuals are
born with specific class, gender and racial or ethnic characteristics that provide
them with a certain amount of advantage or disadvantage.
As time passes, separation between advantages and disadvantages grows and age
groups become increasingly heterogeneous.
This is because economic and social value attached to productive work depends
on one‟s gender, race or ethnicity, class and age.
Younger and older workers are more likely to be employed in non-standard work
such as part-time, temporary/contract based job etc. “women > men”
Younger workers = part time job and school; older workers = closer to retirement,
short term work or difficulty finding new job.
Age structure of industries and occupations may be classified in 1 of 5 ways:
Uniform age distribution: only construction and wholesale trade
industries and no occupational groups had a uniform age distribution.
Youth overrepresented: all parts of retail trade, accommodation, food
and beverage services, and other services.
“Prime age” groups overrepresented: in professional and technical
occupations, managerial occupations, production occupations, crafts and
Older workers overrepresented: in service occupations and resource-
“prime age” groups underrepresented
Work in the new economy is characterized by greater individualism, job
insecurity, risk and instability, less likely to be employed in the same job for life.
Rise of capitalist production - private ownership: individual people who
own the means of production and can do the ownership they want.
Practices of capitalism; relatively few people who own. Eg. Factory, share
in a big company.
Capitalist transformation: service economy (product not intangible) (Harry
Braveman) and knowledge economy (new idea, new production etc.)
Globalization: Global commodity chains (translation flow of labour power
and network through complex situations of economic change) and digital
globalization; Define limits to increase productivity; great benefits and
cost; how we organize and explain work.
Key points of capitalism: o Private ownership ( see above)
o Those who own