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The Jobless Future

The Jobless Future: Second Edition

Stanley Aronowitz
William DiFazio
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition, Second
Pages: 432
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  • Book Info
    The Jobless Future
    Book Description:

    First published in 1994, The Jobless Future’s eerily accurate title could have been written for today’s dismal economic climate. Fully updated and with a new introduction and afterword by Stanley Aronowitz and William DiFazio, The Jobless Future warns that jobs as we know them—long-term, with benefits—are an endangered species.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7486-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Facing the Economic Crisis of the Twenty-first Century A New Introduction to The Jobless Future
    (pp. xi-xxxii)

    Fifteen years ago, we publishedThe Jobless Futurein the aftermath of what had popularly been termed the Bush Recession of 1990-93. We were not inclined to blame the recession on any specific policies of the first Bush administration. On the contrary, our analysis traced the basis of the U.S. and global economic and social crisis to a long-term tendency of job disappearance, economic stagnation in real terms, and the bare truth that what had been read in many quarters as “growth” was a phantom assessment. Although we are wary of predictions, one thing was clear to us: the old...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xxxiii-xxxvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    The nation’s economy is staggering out of the recession, say most of the gauges that measure it, but people who are getting jobs tell a sobering story:

    Many good factory jobs and white-collar office jobs with good wages and benefits are giving way to unstable and mediocre jobs. That makes the recovery different from any other.

    Trends that started in the 1980s have produced a new look to working America. Part-time jobs, temporary jobs, jobs paying no more than the Federal minimum wage, jobs with no more benefits than a few vacation days are displacing permanent regular jobs that people...

  6. Chapter 1 The New knowledge Work
    (pp. 13-56)

    In 1992 the long-term shifts in the nature of paid work became painfully visible not only to industrial workers and those with technical, professional, and managerial credentials and job experience but also to the public. During the year, “corporate giants like General Motors and IBM announced plans to shed tens of thousands of workers.”¹ General Motors, which at first said it would close twenty-one U.S. plants by 1995, soon disclaimed any definite limit to the number of either plant closings or firings and admitted the numbers of jobs lost might climb above the predicted 70,000, even if the recession led...

  7. Chapter 2 Technoculture and the Future of Work
    (pp. 57-80)

    Until World War II, science was primarily done by men working in small laboratories or classrooms in universities, and the technological development that derived from their discoveries was performed by large corporations. AT&T, General Electric, the various branches of the Rockefellerdominated Standard Oil companies, and chemical corporations like Du Pont, Allied, and Union Carbide hired physicists and chemists, engineers and technicians whose principal work was to apply “basic” science to the invention and development of new products. Some—notably AT&T and General Electric—participated in some aspects of basic as well as applied research, but on the whole, scientific discovery...

  8. Chapter 3 The End of Skill?
    (pp. 81-103)

    Who does the emerging technology empower? Is it the instrument of play for some, the instrument of repression for others? And what of work? Work is not only central to the issues before us but also the most ubiquitous possible application of cybernetic technologies in our lives. This is especially true of those whose work consists primarily, if not exclusively, of interaction with computers. For without a sober assessment of the implications of the computer and its applications for the present and future of work, those who herald the computer’s wonders evade one of the central problems for humankind.


  9. Chapter 4 The Computerized Engineer and Architect
    (pp. 104-138)

    The cornerstone of the ideology of professionalism is that the distinction between true professionals and other categories of labor lies in their autonomy from most forms of managerial authority.¹ This claim presupposes that professionals possess specialized knowledge that requires specific training and that even managers are unable to grasp it without undergoing the same regimen. Further, as the narrative goes, even when, say, physicians or engineers occupy high administrative positions, their ability to direct professional work is limited by the rapidly changing knowledge needed by scientific, technical, and service professionals. Typically, administrators have little time to follow professional literature or...

  10. Chapter 5 The Professionalized Scientist
    (pp. 139-170)

    Throughout this book we contend that knowledge is central to the production process, that knowledge is stratified, and that scientific knowledge is valued most highly. Thus our case studies of scientists are of central importance. For this chapter we studied biomedical scientists and the stratified professional labor process at a major research facility in the New York metropolitan area. We talked with the scientists in their workplace, focusing on their own accounts of how they “make science” in their laboratories.

    A cell physiologist describes his work on toad bladders:

    It deals with the general issue of water balance. How a...

  11. Chapter 6 Contradictions of the Knowledge Class: Power, Proletarianization, and Intellectuals
    (pp. 173-201)

    The termsintellectualandintelligentsiaare foreign to the Anglo-American ear. We prefer the designation “professional” to describe those who possess credentials that entitle them to perform types of work that entail the use of legitimate—that is, academically derived—knowledge. The divergence between the Anglo-American usage and that of nearly all of the rest of the world is not merely a descriptive difference; it is theoretical and political. The problem of intellectuals is, in the first place, discovering their class position. In the history of the literature on the intellectual “question,” much of the debate has centered on whether...

  12. Chapter 7 Unions and the Future of Professional Work
    (pp. 202-225)

    The New Deal consisted of a major enlargement of the government’s role in economic life, although from a historical perspective it may be viewed as a continuation of practices and institutions introduced by successive national administrations since the Civil War. For contrary to popular belief, according to which the U.S. economy was based on the free market until the Great Depression, government investments have spurred economic development and growth since the founding of the republic. The government regularly used federal troops to acquire land and territories that were then exploited by agricultural, rail, and industrial capital; built roads that connected...

  13. Chapter 8 A Taxonomy of Teacher Work
    (pp. 226-264)

    Even before the collapse of communism and the decline of Western European social-democratic movements, the once vigorous movements for “social justice”—the American euphemism for addressing class—had already been eclipsed by the almost ritualistic litany of “competitiveness” and the urgency of “growth” and, within opposition, a resurgent discourse on race and gender. Public awareness that the position of U.S. industry in the global economy had severely deteriorated was ruthlessly exploited by corporations, conservative politicians, and economists—academic, corporate, and government. The bottom-line argument was that we could no longer “afford” social justice if America were to regain its postwar...

  14. Chapter 9 The Cultural Construction of Class: Knowledge and the Labor Process
    (pp. 267-297)

    The working class has been decaying in postindustrial America. It has no place to go. For Karl Marx the proletariat was the “class in but not of civil society,”¹ which could resolve the antinomies of capitalist society.² The victory of the working class was inevitable if it became a class “for itself.”³ Workers were the agency of change, the movers who would transform the world and overcome alienation and exploitation in industrial capitalism. Though in the past the working class has demonstrated a formidable ability to organize itself into labor parties (though not in the United States) and powerful trade...

  15. Chapter 10 Quantum Measures: Capital Investment and Job Reduction
    (pp. 298-327)

    One of the problems we have faced during the research for, discussions about, and writing of this book is that we have had to face the brutal truth that our perspective is, to put it mildly, out of sync with the assumptions that underlie current debates about work and its discontents and prospects. First, we do not accept the prevailing wisdom that significant levels of investment in plant and equipment and consequent economic growth lead, in the current era, to more permanent jobs. Or, to state this proposition more positively, if the tendency of most investment is labor-saving in comparison...

  16. Chapter 11 The Jobless Future?
    (pp. 328-358)

    This conversation between Vic Wilcox and Robyn Penrose, a lecturer in English at a thinly disguised University of Birmingham, is from David Lodge’s novelNice Work. Penrose has been assigned to “shadow” Wilcox, the managing director of Pringle, a medium-sized, diversified, metalworking company in the increasingly deindustrialized Midlands region of England. In this dialogue, Vic summarizes one of the crucial elements of what has commonly been designated as the “work ethic.” It is not merely the comparative economic advantage of paid labor over an increasingly inferior “dole” that motivates “men” to take jobs. Nor does the meaning of work derive...

  17. Afterword: Going beyond the Current Crisis
    (pp. 359-376)

    “I ain’t got no boom!” a poor woman responded to a question on how the economic boom of the 1990s had impacted on her life at St. John’s Bread and Life soup kitchen in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. The economic boom of the 1990s did not benefit the poor. The poor woman was also correct about how the boom impacted Americans in general: statistics show that it didn’t really benefit the lives of the working and middle classes. The Clinton administration’s policies benefited only the upper middle class and the wealthy, and when George W. Bush became president they received further economic...

  18. Notes
    (pp. 377-394)
  19. Index
    (pp. 395-410)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 411-411)