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The Jobless Future

The Jobless Future: Sci-Tech and the Dogma of Work

Stanley Aronowitz
William DiFazio
Copyright Date: 1994
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 408
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  • Book Info
    The Jobless Future
    Book Description:

    This widely reviewed and highly successful book examines the job market of tomorrow. Aronowitz and DiFazio take you behind the headlines to challenge the idea that a high-tech economy will provide high-paying jobs for all who want them. Instead, they demonstrate that we’re more likely to see continued layoffs and job displacement. “Looks beyond the shadow play of welfare politics to the real source of that anxiety-the modern workplace.” -The Nation

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8483-0
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. 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...

  5. Part I. Technoscience and Joblessness

    • 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...

    • 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...

    • 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.


    • 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...

    • 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...

  6. Part II. Contours of a New World

    • 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...

    • 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...

    • 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...

  7. Part III. Beyond the Catastrophe

    • 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...

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

      “There you are” said Wilcox. “Our one and only CNC machine.”


      “Computer-numerical-controlled machine. See how quickly it changes tools?”

      Robyn peered through the Perspex window and watched things moving round and going in and out in sudden spasms, lubricated by spurts of a liquid that looked like milky coffee.

      “What’s it doing?”

      “Machining cylinder heads. Beautiful, isn’t it?”

      “Not the word I’d choose.”

      There was something uncanny, almost obscene, to Robyn’s eye, about the sudden, violent, yet controlled movements of the machine, darting forward and retreating, like some steely reptile devouring its prey or copulating with a massive mate....

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

      “Men like to work. It’s a funny thing, but they do. They may moan about it every Monday morning and they may agitate for shorter hours and longer holidays, but they need to work for their self-respect.”

      “That’s just conditioning. People can get used to life without work.”

      “Could you? I thought you enjoyed your work.”

      “That’s different.”


      “Well, it’s nice work. It’s meaningful. It’s rewarding. I don’t mean in money terms. It would be worth doing even if one wasn’t paid anything at all. And the conditions are decent—not like this.”¹

      This conversation between Vic Wilcox and...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 359-376)
  9. Index
    (pp. 377-392)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 393-393)