Chapter 12 Work and the Economy Consider the Artist in the Gray Flannel Pajamas What has changed in the American worker since the 1950s? (According to New York Times writer Michael Lewis) The dominant image of the “Organization Man” has shifted-now is inclusive of women. Values and Attitudes-Today’s worker will not sell out their identity to the corporation; rather, the American worker is moving toward acting as a free agent in the industry. Other changes in the American Worker According to Lewis Values and attitudes that are revered include individualism and freedom— free-thinking and innovation. The values of traditional professions have been eroded by the business model. Other Changes to the American Worker According to Lewis A new corporate language emphasizes the quest for originality, which helps to create a corporate culture between groups. Non-conformity seems to have become the norm. New individualism is fostered in the workplace (e.g., working from home). Division of Labor Division of Labor: The specialization of tasks required to produce goods. Changes in the division of labor have occurred at the micro- and macrolevels (between males and females and also through globalization). Structural and Cultural Dimension of Work and the Economy Structural Dimension: Is concerned with the way work and the economy are organized. Cultural Dimension: Is concerned with values, norms, attitudes, thought, and expression. Economy: The social institution primarily concerned with production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. Figure 12.2 Part-Time Versus Full-Time Employment Differences by Gender Figure 12.3 Distribution of Workers by Weekly Hour Bands Structure of the Economy: Economic Systems Capitalism: A type of modern economic system in which people and organizations invest capital in the production of goods and services to make a profit. Capitalism requires a free market in which producers can compete with one another and freely enter into contracts to buy or sell. Economic Systems (cont’d) Socialism: A type of modern economic system in which the capital invested and the profits from production and supply of goods and services are vested in the state. These state-run economies are sometimes referred to as communist. Economic Systems (cont’d) Mixed Economic System: A type of modern economic system in which elements of socialism are introduced into an otherwise capitalist society Economic Systems (cont’d) Industrial Economy: An economy characterized by the employment of large numbers of workers in the mass production of manufactured goods. The industrial economy reached its peak during the twentieth century. Economic Systems (cont’d) Service Economy: An economy devoted to supplying services, such as information processing, teaching, nursing, advertising, marketing, or food. Organization of Work Karl Marx emphasized that capitalist organization generated conflict, but that it was the most dynamic economic force for bringing about modernization the world had seen. The incessant efforts to improve efficiency naturally brought about needs for new technologies and organization solutions. Organization of Work (cont’d) Max Weber emphasized that the most rational form of organization was the modern bureacracy, which is a large hierarchical organization governed by formal rules and having a clear specification of work tasks that are carried out by suitably qualified officials. Professionals Professionals are characterized by: (1) control of a large body of abstract, formal knowledge (2) substantial autonomy from supervision (3) authority over clients as well as subordinate occupational groups (4) the claim that they will use their knowledge for the benefit of their clients, putting their clients’ interests above their own when necessary. Craft Workers Craft Workers are employees who combine an intense pride in their work with a broad knowledge of tools, materials, and processed as well as manual skills by long training and experience. Figure 12.4 Number Employed in Professional and Related Occupations Figure 12.5 Professional and Related Occupations by Subgroup Figure 12.6 The Decline of Self-Employment in the Twentieth Century Frederick Taylor and Taylorism Taylorism: “Scientific Management,” which was developed by industrial engineer Frederick Taylor. Taylor believed that there was one best way to do every task and that through careful observation, one could find a more efficient means of accomplishing the specific task. Taylorism and Fordism Taylor’s ideas were developed into the principles associated with modern quality control and scientific management. These ideas played a role in the design of the automatic assembly line developed by the Ford Motor Company. This early modern industrial system-of standardized procedures, assembly-line production, and tight managerial control-is the quintessence of Fordism. Meaning and Identity at Work Meaning at work can be attained through the construction of individual and social identities that impart a sense of pride and self-respect, even though these feelings are not directly related to production. A specific type of meaning that can be grounded and emphasized at work is often related to gender roles. Outsourcing Outsourcing: The process by which corporations and businesses send work to off-site contractor’s (often outside the country) in order to avoid paying high wages or providing expensive benefits. Example of Outsourcing: Southern California Many highly skilled and well-paid computer workers in Silicon Valley were supported by large numbers of low-paid service workers, and racial economic inequality was significant. As a result, outsourcing occurred, whereby many lower-level services, including janitorial services, were outsourced to legal and illegal Mexican and Central American immigrants. These immigrants receive low pay, have no benefits, and are worked overtime. Figure 12.7 Distribution of Top Occupations Figure 12.8 Distribution of Top Five Occupations of Foreign-Born Latino Workers Deindustrialization, Gender Gap Deindustrialization: Systematic disinvestment in a nation’s manufacturing infrastructure. Gender Gap: Broadly speaking, the difference between men’s and women’s labor-force participation. Figure 12.10 Labor Force Participation Rates for Females and Males Breakdown of Boundaries Whereas modernization involved increasing separation of the work situation from personal and family life, the use of computers and other electronic devices has made possible an increase in work outside the bureaucratic office or factory. This reflects an erosion of the boundary between workplace and home. Also, through direct-selling techniques, workers may blur the line of customer-seller relations. Breakdown of Boundaries Within the work of professionals as well as craft-workers, managers are increasingly seeking to establish and maintain “human bonds” and personal relations within the company. Under the Ford model, these relationships were strictly separated and excluded from the workplace. Breakdown of Boundaries Workers in the Fordist economic system might have worked for a single company their entire lives. In today’s society, workers move fluidly from firm to firm within their lifetime. Study Questions What are the main differences between capitalist and socialist economic systems? What are the features of “mixed” economic systems? To what does the term division of labor refer? How did the Industrial Revolution transform the division of labor in society? Study Questions (continued) Define Max Weber’s concept of bureaucracy. What aspects of the modern bureaucracy make it an efficient way to organize work? What aspects make it inefficient? What are the four defining characteristics of “professionals”? List some examples of professional occupations. Study Questions (continued) Henry Braverman argued that capitalists organize the work process in whatever way will minimize labor costs, and thus maximize productivity. Is this a “structural” explanation of the labor process? Or is it a “cultural” explanation? Discuss the implications of both. Study Questions (continued) Why are the concepts of meaning and identity important for understanding work? What role does gender play in the contruction of workers’ identities? Have technological changes led to a downgrading or an upgrading of worker skills? Explain why. Study Questions (continued) Describe how outsourcing has changed the way work is organized for supermarket janitors in Southern California. In what way does outsourcing represent the transition from Fordist to post-Fordist production? Study Questions (continued) This transition to post-Fordist production has been described as one of dedifferentiation, which involves the erosion of institutional boundaries. Give three examples of boundaries that have been blurred or undermined under the post-Fordist system. Study Questions (continued) Ethnographic studies of workplace behavior distinguish between strategies of “resistance” and “cooperation.” Give three examples of workers’ resistance strategies as well as three examples of cooperation.
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