Sociology Textbook Notes: Chapter 13:
Shoshana Zuboff- visited offices after they were computerized. Transition from work friendly place into
strict work where supervision increased and communication with other workers decreased
Economy- institution that organizes production, distribution and exchange of goods and services.
Three different sectors:
Primary Sector- farming, fishing, logging and mining
Secondary- raw materials are turned into finish foods; manufacturing
Tertiary- services are bought and sold
Three sectors of economy are also called: agricultural, manufacturing and service sectors.
The agricultural revolution: 10k years ago- all humans lived in nomadic tribes. 5k years ago plow was
invented and this substantially increased the land under cultivation.
The industrial revolution: International exploration, trade and commerce helped stimulate growth of
markets from 15 century on. Late 1700’s steam engine, railroads greatly increased ability of producers to
supply marks and this began in English and spread to W. Europe, N. America, Russia and Japan within
Markets: social regulations that regulate exchange of goods and services. In a market, prices of
goods/services are established by how plentiful they are and how much they are wanted (supply and
The postindustrial revolution: Service jobs were rare in pre-agricultural societies (due to demand in
physical work for tribe survival). As productivity increased so did service sector jobs.
-In Canada more than ¾ of labour force is service.
Division of labour (specialization of work tasks, the more specialized the work tasks in society, the
greater the division of labour) increased due to the agricultural, industrial and postindustrial revolution.
Good job vs. Bad job:
Good job- requires higher education, pay well, not closely supervised, encourage workers to be creative
in pleasant surroundings, job security, promotion opportunities, and significant benefits.
Bad jobs (dead-end jobs) - don’t pay much, require performance of routine tasks under close supervision,
unpleasant working conditions, sometimes dangerous, easily be fired, and lack of promotion chances.
Harry Braverman – argues that owners (capitalists) organize work to maximize profits. One way to
increase profits is to break complex tasks into simple routines, but this has three consequences.
1. Employers can replace workers with machinery.
2. Given simplification of work, employers can replace skilled workers with less expensive, unskilled
3. Employers can control workers more directly since less worker discretion and skill is needed to
complete each task.
Braverman believes the future of work involves a deskilling trend.
Deskilling- process by which work tasks are broken into simple routines requiring little training to
perform (involves replacing humans with machines and increase in management over workers.
Fordism- method of industrial management based on assembly line of producing inexpensive
commodities in mass quantities Henry ford introduced the assembly line that allowed him to mass produce cars for mass market. Workers
performed specialized tasks assigned by managers.
Scientific management- developed in 1910 by Frederick Taylor that states how to improve productivity.
After analyzing movement of workers during work, Taylor trained them to eliminate unnecessary actions
and this is called Taylorism.
Criticism of Bravermans: This is not wrong but irrelevant because factory workers only make up small
portion of labour force and smaller proportion every year as manufacturing sector shrinks and service
sector expands. Bravermans critics are more interested in whether good jobs or bad jobs are growing in
services, the sector that accounts for 3/4 of Canadian jobs today (does deskilling apply to both industrial
and service work?)
Shoshanna Zuboff- argues that computerization of office in 1980’s increased supervision of deskilled
work, computers eliminate many jobs and routinize others, allowed supervisors to monitor every
keystroke, taking worker control to another level
Part Time Jobs- growth of P.T.J in Canada added to concern about erosion of meaningful jobs as labour
force double from 1976-2000.
Expansion of P.T work is not serious problem in itself for two reasons:
1. some jobs are good jobs
2. Some people want to work part time (university students, mothers and people caring for family)
Downside of P.T.J- not only economic, nor coping with dull routine, but maintaining self-respect in face of
low pay, benefits, security, status, and creativity (such as working at McDonald’s) as some are forced to
smile no matter what
Critique of Deskilling Thesis:
Deskilling thesis does not fully capture occupational hierarchy as it focuses at the bottom. Looking at all
jobs, not all jobs are being deskilled, deskilling occurs mainly in jobs characterized as “old” economy
(assembly line for example and new jobs would be biotechnology and informatics).
Evidence suggests although much of growing service sector is associated with growth of “dead-end” jobs;
this is more of it is association with enlargement of skilled requirements. Jobs in service sector require
more skills, and because of this the overall workforce is becoming deskilled due to higher skilled jobs
being reported in the service economy which is the fastest growing sector.
Information technology has transformed work; with little evidence suggesting it has degraded work
overall. But instead it causes the income gap to grow between skilled workers who use information
technology and those who do not, and between skilled/ less skilled workers.
Labour Market Segmentation: division of the market for labour into distinct settings. In these settings,
work is found in different ways and workers have different characteristics. There is only slim chance of
moving from one setting to another.
Primary Labour market- highly skilled/educated workers of large corporations that enjoy high levels