Compass: Chapter 13 -- Work & the Economy

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14 Feb 2011
Sociology: Your Compass to a New World
Chapter 13: Work & the Economy
The Promise and History of Work
Salvation or Curse?
-After the introduction of computers in the work place, some workers said that
smiles changed to frowns, mobility became immobility, sociability was
transformed into isolation, freedom turned to regimentation
-Bill Gates argues that computers reduce out work hours, make goods and
services cheaper by removing many distribution costs and allow us to enjoy
our leisure time more.
Three Revolutions
-the economy is the institution that organized the production, distribution,
and exchange of goods and services
-the economy is divided into 3 sectors:
1. Primary sector: responsible for farming, fishing, logging, and
mining2. The secondary sector: raw materials are manufactured and turned
into finished goods
3. Tertiary sector: services (teachers, lawyers, nurses, etc.) are bought
and sold
-also known as the agricultural, manufacturing, and service sectors
-The three industrial revolutions were:
Agriculture -humans were nomadic (traveled from place to place as a
means of survival) about 10,000 years ago
-people began to herd cattle and grow plants by using hand
-Productivity: amounts of goods and services produced for
every hour worked increased with agriculture
-Fish, fur, and timber were important to Canadas primary
Industry-international exploration, trade, and commerce stimulated
the growth of markets from the 15th century
-Markets: are social relations that regulate the exchange of
goods and services, where prices are established by how
plentiful goods and services are (supply) and how much they
are wanted 9demand)
-Steam engine, railroads, and other technological
innovations greatly increased
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Service Sector - over the years, the need and demand for the service jobs
-the computer automated many manufacturing and office
-it created jobs in the service sector as quickly as it
eliminated them in manufacturing (machines replaced
The Social Organization of Work
-agricultural, industrial, and postindustrial revolutions altered the way work
was socially organized
-Division of Labor: specialization of work tasks. The more specialized the
work tasks in a society, the greater the division of labor.
-Work tasks became more specialized with each successive revolution
-In pre-agrigan cultures, hunting, gathering wild plants, raising children, and
tending to the tribes need were the only jobs available.
-Postindustrial society has thousands of different kinds of jobs
-Increasing the division of labor sometimes involves creating new skills (other
jobs require long periods of study medical school. Etc)
-Sometimes, increasing the division of labor involves breaking a complex
range of skills into a series of simple routines ex; conveyer belt jobs in
automotive industries
-As division of labor increases, so does social relations among workers they
become more hierarchical involving authority and subordinated following
-Work hierarchies are organized bureaucraticallyclearly defined positions
and written goals, rules, and procedures govern the organization of work.
Good verses Bad Jobs
Good JobsBad Jobs
- require higher education
-pay well
-not closely supervised
-encourage worker to be creative
in pleasant surroundings
-offer secure employment,
opportunities for promotion, and
other significant benefits
-dont pay much
- require the performance of
routine tasks under close
-working conditions are
unpleasant and sometimes
- require little formal education
-can easily get fired
- receive few benefits
-low prospects for promotion\
-also called dead-end jobs
The Deskilling Thesis
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-harry Braverman argued that owners (capitalists) organize work to maximize
-one way to increase profit is to break complex tasks into simple routines,
which increased division of labor in the workforce
-had three important consequences:
1. Machinery can be used to replace workers
2. Less skilled, cheaper labor can be used
3. Employees can be controlled more directly since less worker
discretion and skill is needed to complete each task
-The future of work involves a deskilling trend (process by which work tasks
are broken into simple routines requiring little training to perform
- understood as a separation between conception and execution in a
job - Workers executed highly specialized, repetitive tasks requiring little
skill at a pace set by their supervisors
-Fordism: method of industrial management based on assembly-line methods
of producing cheap, uniform commodities in high volume. (term comes from
the assembly line first introduced by Fords automotive conveyor belt jobs)
-Scientific Management: introduced by Frederick W. Taylor; is a system for
improving productivity by analyzing the movement of workers as they did
their jobs, and then trained them to eliminate unnecessary actions also
known as Taylorism
-In the 1980s and 1990, some analysis feared that good jobs in manufacturing
were being replaced by bad jobs in services
Part-Time Work
-some part-time jobs are good jobs in the sense that there are a large number
of part-time jobs available for people seeking work
-some people want part-time jobs and can afford to do so
-however, most part-time jobs are bad and cannot support a family since most
are minimum wage jobs
-involves maintaining your self-respect in the face of low pay, benefits,
security, status, and creativity
- many fast-food workers are stigmatized by their peers and friends due to the
nature of the job
Critique of the Deskilling Thesis
-not all jobs are being deskilled
-deskilling may be occurring primarily in jobs that are characteristic of the old
economy (ex: assembly line manufacturing)
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