SOCA02H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 13: Labor Market Segmentation, Deskilling, Harry Braverman

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Published on 21 Apr 2013
School
UTSC
Department
Sociology
Course
SOCA02H3
Professor
Chapter 13 Work and the Economy
The Promise and history of work
o Computerization began in the early 1980s
o Picture differences before and after computerization;
Smiles frowns
Mobility immobility
Sociability isolation
Freedom regimentation
Economic sectors and revolutions
o Economy: social institution that organizes the production, distribution, and
exchange of goods and services
o 3 sectors:
Primary (agricultural) farming, fishing, logging and mining
Secondary (manufacturing) raw materials are turned into finished goods;
manufacturing takes place
Tertiary (service) services are bought and sold (nurses, teachers,
lawyers, hairdressers, computer programmers, etc.)
o Each sector rose through a revolution
The Agricultural Revolution ~10 000 years ago. People began to herd
cattle and grow plants through simple hand tools
~5000 years ago farmers invented the plow and attached to large
animals
Productivity (amount produced for every hour worked) soared
The Industrial Revolution international exploration, trade, and commerce
helped stimulate the growth of markets from the 15th century on
Markets social relations regulating the exchange of goods and
services. Prices are established by how plentiful goods and services
are (supply) and how much they are wanted (demand)
The Post-industrial Revolution as productivity increased, service- sector
jobs become numerous. Computer accelerated this shift in the last third of
the 20th century. Now, more than ¾ of the labour force is employed in the
service sector
The Division and Hierarchy of Labour
o Agricultural, Industrial and Post-industrial Revolutions increased the division of
labour
Work tasks became more specialized
o Pre-agarian societies 4 main jobs: hunting, gathering, raising children, tending
to the tribe’s spiritual needs
“Good” versus “bad” jobs
o Bad jobs don’t pay much, require the performance of routine tasks under close
supervision, require little formal education
Working conditions are unpleasant, sometimes dangerous
Can be fired easily, receive little benefits
“dead-end” jobs
o Good jobs offer secure employment, opportunities for promotion\
The Deskilling Thesis
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o Harry Braverman owners (capitalists) organize work to maximize profits
o Increased division of labour has 3 consequences:
Employers can replace workers with machinery
Replace skilled workers with cheaper, unskilled workers
Employers can control workers more directly
o Future of work requires a deskilling trend breaking work down into simple
routines
o 1910, Henry Ford introduced the assembly line
Fordism describes mass-production, assembly-line work
o Frederick W. Taylor scientific management system for improving
productivity
Trained to eliminate unnecessary actions and improve efficiency
o Criticism of deskilling thesis: factory workers represent only a small proportion of
the labour force
o Computerization of the office in the 1980s involved increased supervision of
deskilled work
Part-Time Work
o Part-time workers make up about two-thirds of the people working at or below
minimum wage
o Fastest-growing category of part-time workers are involuntary part-timers want
to work more hours but can’t
o Downside of part-time work: economic issues, maintaining dignity, stigmatization
o E.g. McDonalds worker, “temp” job
A Critique of the Deskilling Thesis
o Deskilling is happening mainly in jobs that are characteristic of the “old”
economy (assembly-line manufacturing) rather than the “new” economy
(biotechnology and informatics)
o Though most of the growing sector is associated with the growth of “dead-end”
jobs, more of it is associated with an enlargement of skilled employment
o Skilled jobs: require high levels of conceptual autonomy and complexity
o If deskilling is to take place, then some members of the labour force must invent,
design, advertise, market, install, repair and maintain complex machines
o Computers magnify pay differences among skill levels
o Introduction of computers tends to enlarge the number and quality of good jobs
and reduce the number of bad jobs
The Social Relations of Work
o Industrial Revolution began an era of work requiring brute force and obedience to
authority
o After the Industrial Revolution, a managerial revolution took place involved the
separation of conception and execution
o Silicon Valley top executives earn millions of dollars a year, while workers in
the electronic factories earn less than 60% of the Valley’s average wage, work
long hours, exposed to toxic substances and suffer industrial illness
Labour Market Segmentation
o 1820-1890 = period of initial proletarianization in North America
A large industrial working class replaced craft workers in small workshops
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Document Summary

The promise and history of work: computerization began in the early 1980s, picture differences before and after computerization; Economic sectors and revolutions: economy: social institution that organizes the production, distribution, and exchange of goods and services, 3 sectors: Primary (agricultural) farming, fishing, logging and mining. Secondary (manufacturing) raw materials are turned into finished goods; manufacturing takes place. Tertiary (service) services are bought and sold (nurses, teachers, lawyers, hairdressers, computer programmers, etc. : each sector rose through a revolution. The agricultural revolution ~10 000 years ago. People began to herd cattle and grow plants through simple hand tools. ~5000 years ago farmers invented the plow and attached to large animals. Productivity (amount produced for every hour worked) soared. The industrial revolution international exploration, trade, and commerce helped stimulate the growth of markets from the 15th century on. Markets social relations regulating the exchange of goods and services.

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