degradation-of-work thesis

The proposition that skilled work has declined in importance with the rise of capitalist industrialization -most notably during the twentieth century and following the rise of the scientific management movement. The most notable proponents of this thesis have been neo-Marxists such as Georges Friedmann and Harry Braverman. The latter argues that private capitalists pursue increased control over their workforces, both as a means of increasing labour productivity by extracting greater profits, and for the political purpose of subduing the working class . The principal means for securing this control is said to be the separation of conception and execution, that is, appropriation of all planning and design knowledge by managers, with the workers being delegated only the responsibility for operating pre-programmed machinery and performing routinized and de-skilled tasks. This process was characterized as the ‘degradation of work’ because it stripped formerly skilled employees (for example craft-workers and clerical workers) both of their skills and their self-respect. The thesis formed the core of the so-called labour process debate that preoccupied neo-Marxist sociologists of work during the 1980s. See also proletarianization.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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  • degradation of work thesis — degradation of work thesis …   Dictionary of sociology

  • degradation of work — thesis …   Dictionary of sociology

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  • de-skilling — A term which summarizes the central ideas of Harry Braverman s Labour and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century (1974). His thesis was that capitalist forms of production reduce the cost of labour by breaking down… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • Friedmann, Georges — (1902 77) A French sociologist, originator, and the driving force behind the Sociologie du Travail in early post war France; also a trenchant critic of the scientific management movement. Sociologie du Travail developed out of Friedmann s… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • proletarianization — This label is applied to the process by which sections of the middle class become absorbed into the working class . In The Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels argued that capitalism would encourage a… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • labour process — Analysis of the labour process may be traced back to Karl Marx s interest in the means by which human labour is harnessed in the creation of products for human need. This process is seen to be socially organized and to vary historically between… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • Industrial sociology — (also known as sociology of industrial relations or sociology of work ) is both a study of the interaction of people within industry (e.g. boss subordinate, inter departmental, and management union relations) and, on a macrosociological scale,… …   Wikipedia

  • modernization — See modernize. * * * Transformation of a society from a rural and agrarian condition to a secular, urban, and industrial one. It is closely linked with industrialization. As societies modernize, the individual becomes increasingly important,… …   Universalium

  • Labour power — (in German: Arbeitskraft , or labour force) is a crucial concept used by Karl Marx in his critique of capitalist political economy. He regarded labour power as the most important of the productive forces. Under capitalism, according to Marx, the… …   Wikipedia

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