Brym_Ch13.docx

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19 Apr 2012
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Malak Patel | Chapter 13
1
Chapter 13: Work & the Economy
The Promise & History of Work
Salvation or Curse?
Work automation & standardization is seen as degrading & inhuman processes
Wired magazine→ computers allow us to become mobile & creative
Three Revolutions
Economy: institution that organizes the production, distribution, & exchange of goods & services
1. Primary sector- farming, fishing, logging & mining
2. Secondary sector raw materials turned into finished goods; manufacturing
3. Tertiary sector services are bought & sold
The Development of Agriculture
Farmers invented the plow
Productivity: the amount of goods or services produced for every hour worked
In 1900, > 40% workforce employed in agriculture in Canada
Commodities are staples such as nickel, oil and cod.
The Development of Modern Industry [Industrialization]
International exploration, trade & commerce stimulated growth of markets from 15th cent. on
Markets: social relations that regulate the exchange of goods & services
o In a market, prices established by supply & demand
The Development of the Service Sector
The computer automated many manufacturing & office procedures, eliminated jobs.
The computer, created jobs in the service sector [75%] as quickly as it eliminated
The Social Organization of Work
Division of Labour: specialization of work tasks. The more specialized the work tasks in society,
the greater the division of labour.
o Increasing the division of labour involves creating new skills
o Breaking complex range of skills into series of simple routines
Work relations became more hierarchical
Work hierarchies are organized bureaucratically
“Good” vs “Bad” Jobs
“Bad” jobs → don’t pay much & require the performance of routine tasks under close supervision
→ working conditions are unpleasant, dangerous
→ requires little formal education
→ called “dead-end” jobs
“Good” jobs → require higher education, pay well
→ not closely supervised, encourages workers to be creative
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Malak Patel | Chapter 13
2
→ offers secure employment, opportunity for promotion, other benefits
The Deskilling Thesis
Harry Braverman→ argued that owners [capitalists] organize work to maximize profits
o To ↑ profits, break complex tasks into simple routines
o ↑ division of labour; 3 consequences:
1) Machinery can be used to replace workers
2) Less skilled, cheaper labour can be used
3) Employees can be controlled directly since less worker discretion & skill is needed
o As a result, future of work involves a “deskilling” tend
Deskilling: separation b/w conception and execution in a job
o Accompanied by the use of machinery to replace labour & increase management control
over workers
Fordism: is a method of industrial management based on mass production, assembly line work
Scientific management: system for improving productivity developed by Frederick Taylor
o After analyzing the movements of workers as they did their jobs, Taylor trained them to
eliminate unnecessary actions, thus, improve efficiency [also called Taylorism]
Criticism against deskilling thesis→ its irrelevant
o Factory workers only represent a small proportion of the labour force [13%]
Deskilling thesis apply to both industrial labour & service work?
o Yes b/c computerization eliminated many jobs, increased supervision over work
Good jobs in manufacturing being replaced by bad jobs in servicesdownward slide in LF
Part-Time Work
1/6 of all ppl in Canadian labour force were part-time workers, working <30 hrs a week
Part-time work offers flexibility [time can be spent for other activities]
Increasingly large # of ppl depend on P-T work for necessities of FT living
Part-time workers make up 2/3 of ppl working @ or below minimum wage
o 1/3 workers work involuntary
Downsideeconomic [$] AND maintaining your self-respect [ex. Working Mac Jobs]
A Critique of the Deskilling Thesis
Focused occupations at the bottom of the hierarchy, ignores the top
1. Not all jobs are being deskilled
2. Deskilling maybe occurring primarily in old economy jobs [e.x. assembly line manufacturing]
o but not in new economy [e.x. biotechnology informatics]
How do you measure changes in skill across all jobs in labour force?
Research on skills should be conducted using multiple methods
Deskilling is occurring b/c of the rise of the service sector?
Service sector requires higher level of skills
Least-skilled service workers only hold their jobs briefly, then move on to something higher
Although technological innovations kill off entire job categories, they also create entire new
industries w/ many good jobs
Proposed
view on
“future of
work”
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